What's the best technique to tuck or close the tortilla when preparing a burrito so that it doesn't come undone when it's time to eat?
Folding a burrito is serious business. Get it wrong and you'll end up dumping most of the contents all over the place and look like a burrito noob. Get it right and your hands and plate will be perfectly clean, and you'll no longer be hungry. Beware: publicly flaunting these skills might lead to people wanting you to fold their burritos for them.
First off: make sure your tortilla is ready to be folded. A cold or dried out tortilla is likely to crack or split. Use a warm and moist tortilla.
Second: don't overfill the tortilla. If you have small tortillas don't try to make a giant burrito and expect that to work.
How to fold
Now that we have the basics out of the way let's get to folding. See the flash animation at Chow.com (which I've converted into an image here):
Place the contents in the approximately center of your partially folded tortilla. Leave plenty of room on the ends otherwise you'll most surely have food spilling out once it's folded up. Hold the filled tortilla so the weight of the filling pulls it tight. If your burrito busts through now, it will certainly burst later. If not, proceed to step 2.
Fold one end towards the center.
Fold the other end over.
Roll the bottom (the end nearest you) up towards the top. This isn't the intuitive way, but it's the right way. Make sure not to let the food squeeze out. I hold it with my fingers at the crease where the bottom edge that's been folded up meets the food.
Keep rolling it up.
Om nom nom.
The most important and easy thing to do with any tortilla before folding it is to warm the tortilla to make it supple and not to crack. (The same is true for enchiladas and tacos.)
The best warming is over a range/stove burner (open flame or electric). Just keep rotating the tortilla until it is no longer stiff. Then stuff it right away while it's still warm. (You can also use a microwave to warm the tortilla, but it will come out drier - with a bigger risk of "post-consumption gut bloat".)
And be sure to use good flour tortillas, especially for burros/burritos. If it's a low fat or corn/maize tortilla, you're not going to have good luck no matter what. It will crack and won't fold at all well.
one of the most proper ways of doing it is to fold the bottom 1/3 of the way up, then fold the sides in, and end off with folding the top down to close it. It then looks somewhat like an envelope. I like filling mine with lots of food, so I usually don't gold the top down. I just do the first two steps. My plate usually looks like it hasn't been used because nothing falls out.
Here's how we always did it (this was a weekly meal growing up, and for reference, we made tortilla shells with approximately a 12 inch diameter):
- Arrange the ingredients in a line down the middle, leaving about 1 inch on either end about at least 3 inches on either side
- Fold the ends over, so the crease is right where the ingredients stop
- Fold one side, then the other side with both creases right where the ingredients stop
With that, I've never had much issue with anything coming undone, just a little leaking if there is too much salsa or other liquid ingredients.
A traditional burrito's tortilla is NOT folded. It is just rolled
If your filling comes out it is to finely chopped, to wet, or too much
If it wants to unroll, just hang onto to it! A fresh, soft, and warmed tortilla will quite happily stay rolled. Maybe you tortillas and to dry?
Many cultures use flat breads to serve saucy foods in, they do this because they didn't have sufficient utensils, or water to clean utensils in. They use flat breads as then the utensil/plate is eaten too, and no food is wasted, as they generally don't have to waste