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Taco Night? Warming Tortillas are the Way to Go

Straight out of the fridge, store-bought tortillas are lackluster in flavor, cold, and unbendable.

Here are 2 methods to warm them, a tortilla storage tip, and our recipe for Steak Tacos.

See how to make your own tortillas and learn the secrets to Mexican Classics on America’s Test Kitchen Online Cooking School.

Warming Tortillas Using a Gas Flame

When you only need to warm up a few tortillas and you have a gas burner, simply place a single tortilla directly over the medium flame and toast it until slightly charred. This usually only takes up to 30 seconds per side.

Warming Tortillas Without a Gas Flame

If you don’t have a gas flame, you can get similar results by toasting tortillas one at a time in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until softened and speckled with brown spots, 20 to 30 seconds per side.

Warming a Stack of Tortillas

When you need to warm up several tortillas the oven is better for the job. Simply divide the tortillas into stacks of 6, and wrap each stack in foil. Heat the tortillas on the middle rack of a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Keep the warmed tortillas wrapped in foil or a kitchen towel until ready to use or they will dry out. (If your tortillas are very dry, pat each with a little water before warming.)

Storing Tortillas

Many tortillas packages (especially corn tortillas) are sold in packs of 24 or more. To freeze corn tortillas, gently peel individual tortillas from the stack and place them between pieces of wax or parchment paper, then freeze up to 12 tortillas in a zipper-lock freezer bag. When you’re ready to use them, defrost stacks of four to six tortillas in the microwave at 50-percent power until thawed, 10 to 20 seconds per stack.

Steak Tacos, originally published in Cook’s Illustrated

Why This Recipe Works: To develop a steak taco recipe with an indoor cooking method that yielded steak taco meat as tender, juicy, and rich-tasting as the grilled method, we chose flank steak, beefy and tender when sliced thinly across the grain. Pan-searing gave us the browned exterior and crisp, brittle edges characteristic of grilled meat. A paste of oil, cilantro, scallions, garlic, and jalapeño applied to the meat and scraped off just before cooking gave our steak taco recipe a flavor boost without sacrificing browning.

SERVES 4 TO 6

For a less spicy dish, remove some or all of the ribs and seeds from the jalapeños before chopping them for the marinade. In addition to the toppings suggested below, try serving the tacos with Sweet and Spicy Pickled Onions, thinly sliced radishes or cucumber, or salsa.

HERB PASTE
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
3 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 medium scallions, roughly chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 medium jalapeño chile, stemmed and roughly chopped (see note above)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

STEAK
1 flank steak (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds), trimmed of excess fat and cut lengthwise (with grain) into 4 equal pieces
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

TACOS
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
Fresh cilantro leaves
Minced white or red onion
Lime wedges

1. FOR THE HERB PASTE: Pulse cilantro, garlic, scallions, jalapeño, and cumin in food processor until finely chopped, ten to twelve 1-second pulses, scraping down sides as necessary. Add oil and process until mixture is smooth and resembles pesto, about 15 seconds, scraping down sides of workbowl as necessary. Transfer 2 tablespoons herb paste to medium bowl; whisk in lime juice and set aside.

2. FOR THE STEAK: Using dinner fork, poke each piece of steak 10 to 12 times on each side. Place in large baking dish; rub all sides of steak pieces evenly with salt and then coat with remaining herb paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

3. Scrape herb paste off steak and sprinkle all sides of pieces evenly with sugar and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Place steak in skillet and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes. Flip steak and sear until second side is well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, stand each piece on a cut side and cook, turning as necessary, until all cut sides are well browned and internal temperature registers 125 to 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 2 to 7 minutes. Transfer steak to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

4. FOR THE TACOS: Using sharp chef’s knife or carving knife, slice steak pieces across grain into 1/8-inch-thick pieces. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with herb paste-lime juice mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt. Spoon small amount of sliced steak into center of each warm tortilla and serve immediately, passing toppings separately.

Bake Better Bread

With only four basic ingredients — water, flour, yeast, and salt — bread may seem simple. But anyone who’s tried actually baking a loaf knows that achieving soft, crusty perfection is no easy task. In the Rustic Italian Breads Lesson in the America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School, our experts will walk you through the proper techniques including mixing, hand kneading, and folding. With a little guidance you’ll be making delicious loaf after delicious loaf in no time.

Bridget-ism: “So here’s the rule: If you want food to taste good, you have to season it before cooking. Adding salt and pepper to food after it’s already been cooked may make a sauce taste great, but its going to do little to flavor the meat.”From the America’s Test Kitchen Online Cooking School.

Bridget-ism: “So here’s the rule: If you want food to taste good, you have to season it before cooking. Adding salt and pepper to food after it’s already been cooked may make a sauce taste great, but its going to do little to flavor the meat.”

From the America’s Test Kitchen Online Cooking School.

Meet our “Learn To Cook” WINNER!

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Ian S., the winner of our Learn To Cook Contest! Ian will be flying to America’s Test Kitchen in Boston, MA, from Napa Valley, CA, where he will spend the day learning to cook with TV’s Bridget Lancaster. 

We also wanted to extend a BIG thank you to the nine finalists, we had an absolutely wonderful time chatting with all of you on the phone. All of you are invited to a personal tour of the Test Kitchen the next time you are in Boston.

Do YOU want to Learn To Cook? Be sure to visit our brand new Online Cooking School.

Be a Knife Ninja

Spending more time slicing than actually cooking? Time to sharpen your knife skills with the Cooking Fundamentals lesson in the America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School. Before you know it, you’ll be mincing, chopping, cubing, chiffonade-ing, and even julienne-ing like a pro. Chop on, Knife Ninja.

Be a Sauce Boss

The right sauce can turn a bowl of noodles into a feast, or a ho hum steak into an ultra-flavorful, restaurant quality dish. Master the art of sauce-making with the Classic Sauces lesson on the Test Kitchen Cooking School. Sign up for a free trial and you’ll be whipping up creative sauces for any dish in no time. Cook on, Sauce Boss!

We’re giving away these stylish America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School aprons to the the first 150 students to enroll in our Online Cooking School this week and continue past their free trial. Click for more details.
Get access to 100 courses and be a better cook today. Enroll now.

We’re giving away these stylish America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School aprons to the the first 150 students to enroll in our Online Cooking School this week and continue past their free trial. Click for more details.

Get access to 100 courses and be a better cook today. Enroll now.