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.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- For the Guacamole
- 2 avocados, cut in half, pits removed, flesh scooped out and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 small white onion, diced, rinsed under water, and drained (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced (about 2 teaspons)
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- small handful fresh cilantro, stems removed, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 1 to 2 limes
- Kosher salt
- For the Taquitos
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
- 1/2 small white onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
- one 15-ounce can tomatoes, drained
- 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- 1 1/2 pounds cooked chicken, shredded
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1/2 head Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
- 8 small radishes, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
- Mexican crema or sour cream
For the guacamole: Combine the avocados, white onion, jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice in a large bowl. Use a spoon, and stir until everything is creamy, but there are still some chunks of the avocado. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
For the Taquitos: Heat one tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium high-heat until shimmering. Add onion and garlic clove and cook, stirring often, until the onion and garlic are beginning to brow, about 7 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove, leaving as much of the oil as possible behind. Transfer to a blender along with the tomatoes, jalapeños, and salt. Blend until mixed, but still with some texture.
Add another tablespoon oil to Dutch oven and heat until shimmering. Add contents of blender. Stir well, and cook until the sauce has reduced into a thick sauce-like consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add the shredded chicken, and stir well. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add one tortilla and let it bubble in the oil until soft, two to three seconds. Flip and give it another couple seconds, and then remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat process with remaining tortillas.
Working one tortilla at a time, spoon 2 tablespoons chicken mixture down center, then up like a cigar. Secure each rolled tortilla with a toothpick. Make sure the toothpick runs parallel to the tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add as many of the rolled up tortillas as fit in one layer. Cook, flipping occasionally, until each is browned on top and bottom, three to five minutes. When done, drain on paper towel-lined plate and season immediately with salt. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Divide the taquitos between four plates. Top each with a lettuce, radishes, and a drizzle of crema. Add a quarter of the guacamole to each plate. Serve.