I know, I know, I almost NEVER post Mexican food on here. But people, you do understand that I live in Mexico, where I can get cheap, fresh, and delicious Mexican food whenever I want, and sometimes, it’s as cheap as if I made it myself.
But then I get to thinking ….. what if I ever move away? Have I learned ANYTHING about Mexican cooking?
And then I hang down my head in shame.
One of the first things my son loved here was taquitos. Taquitos are corn tortillas filled with a variety of combinations, (a popular one is chicken and cheese), rolled up like a cigar, and then fried and served with all the usual and wonderful Mexican-style toppings. Flautas are the same thing, except the tortillas are made with flour instead of corn.
I usually just pick up the same flour tortillas that you probably do at your grocery store. I love the corn ones, and they are fresh and wonderful here, but unless I am using them all within a day or two, the flour ones last better in my fridge,
for the seemingly endless amounts of food that my teenage son inhales.
I won’t say that these are ‘authentic’, but to be honest, I’ve had so many different taquitos and flautas in the years that I’ve lived here, I’m not really sure what ‘authentic’ is. I got my son to critique these when I was testing them, because he’s eaten his fair share. Once he was pleased, I knew they were good to go.
For the filling, I used an old shredded chicken recipe that we LOVE. It’s a little saucy, so when i put the chicken in the tortillas, I strained it a little, and saved the sauce to pour on top instead. It keeps the flauta crunchy when fried but the chicken instead packed with flavor.
When you are rolling, don’t over-fill the tortilla, or put too much of the filling right to the end, or else it will open up or ooze out of the end and make a mess in your pan. This is what I do:
Actually that piece of chicken on the right is sticking out a bit too far, I had to push that back in! And also pictured above is Oaxaca cheese, so don’t get thrown by that. It’s long and stringy and salty and you can use it too, although we preferred the cotija.
Have you ever tried cotija cheese? It is very common here and easy to find. It is a hard cow’s milk cheese that is very salty and crumbly, perfect for holding its shape when tossed on top of a warm flauta. See if you can find it, it’s a lot like feta, but much stronger of a flavor. If you can’t find it, use any cheese you like inside, preferably a white, stringy cheese, that is a popular option here also.
I was lazy and used boneless skinless chicken breasts for this. You can buy chicken pieces instead and use those and shred them yourself; the meat will be more moist for sure. Also, the amount of chipotle called for makes this nice and spicy. Actually, it’s perfect for me, not spicy enough for my daughter and husband, and too spicy for other people …… so you can adjust that to your family’s preference.
So try this on Taco Tuesday, mix things up a little bit, adjust to your liking, and have a great Mexican-style meal!
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 TAB olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 3 TAB tomato paste
- salt and pepper
- 3 chipotle chiles in adobo
- about 25 flour or corn tortillas
- about 1 cup cotija cheese or a substitute
- cilantro as a topping
- sour cream or Mexican crema
- 2 avocadoes
- 1 lime
- neutral cooking oil for frying
Put some water in the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Add bay leaves, pinch of salt, and chicken. Bring water to a boil, then turn down to simmer until chicken is cooked through. (Thighs and breasts with a bone usually take 1/2 hour, without a bone about half that time). When chicken is cooked, remove from broth and let cool. Save the broth.
In a different pot, add olive oil and garlic. Saute for a minute until garlic starts to lightly sizzle, then add onion and saute for about 6-8 minutes until soft and translucent. Stir in the cumin, and pinch of salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1 cup of reserved broth and stir to combine. Let simmer.
Put the chipotles in a blender with a bit of stock and process until it is a chunky paste. Add to the pot and stir to combine. Continue to simmer sauce.
Shred the chicken and add to sauce. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Simple Avocado sauce (optional):
Remove skin from avocado. Put in a blender or food processor with a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of salt.
Lay down a few tortillas at a time on your work space. Strain a little of the chicken so it’s not too saucy. Put down a little bit of the chicken mixture and top with the cheese as shown above. Roll up in cigar like fashion and keep seam side down while you finish rolling.
Heat neutral oil just to cover the bottom of a large saucepan. Without crowding, place flautas seam side down. Fry a few minutes on each side, flipping over to ensure even frying. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Repeat until all flautas are done.
Top with sour cream, some of the sauce from the chicken or fresh tomatoes instead, cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, and avocado sauce.
Makes about 25 flautas.
**Note: Try freezing them! They freeze well and you can have yummy flautas ready to warm up at a moments notice as a fast snack or meal to go.