Serious Eats

Dinner Tonight: Chicken Taquitos with Guacamole

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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Call them taquitos, flautas, or simply fried tacos, but what I love about them remains the same: a soft and spicy filling housed in a crisp but still pliant tortilla shell, with fresh ingredients on top to balance everything out. I also appreciate that you can make them with leftovers, especially roast chicken. Just shred the chicken, mix it up with salsa, wrap it up in tortillas, and fry away.

The straightforward salsa I picked requires few ingredients, but a couple cooking techniques give it some serious character. First, before they are blended up with the tomatoes and jalapeño, the thickly sliced onions and a whole clove of garlic are sautéed in a large pan until browned and caramelized. Second, the blended salsa is poured back into that hot pan where it bubbles furiously for a few minutes and reduces down to a concentrated and flavorful base. Only then is the shredded chicken added in. It's slightly spicy, a little sweet, with a wonderful roasted flavor from the sauté.

Now you're ready to fry. Once again, a couple tricks make the process easier. Though it may seem strange, briefly frying each tortilla before adding the filling will soften them up and make them more pliable. If you skip this step, the tortillas are apt to break during the rolling process. Once fried and filled, you then need to secure each one with a toothpick to keep the tortilla from opening up and spilling the contents into the pan. I found that threading the toothpick through the flap, while holding it parallel to the rolled tortilla, works the best. But that's just me.

What's great about this recipe is that you can adapt it to whatever you happen to have in the fridge. Pork works well, as would beef. Honestly, even mashed potatoes work. But this is a great place to start.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is the editor of Serious Eats: Chicago. He loves tacos and spicy food. You can follow him as @nickdk on Twitter.

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