I didn’t used to cook. My mom was single most of my life and working two or three jobs so I don’t specifically remember many nights of mother/daughter cooking sessions. It wasn’t until my mission where the Hispanic women took me under their wing and taught me how to make all kinds of culinary masterpieces that cooking even started to interest me.
This is one of those masterpieces. In fact, probably the first one.
I remember spending one of our preparation days at Maria Villela’s house while she told us that her flautas were always the best and everyone thought so. That’s because instead of just plain boiled chicken, she always made a little sauce that she coated the chicken in. The sauce gives it more flavor and keeps it moist.
It took me like 2 hours to shred the chicken that day because I didn’t know what I was doing and I remember thinking she was getting a little bit antsy with me. “Who is this white girl and why doesn’t she know anything about cooking?!”
Needless to say I’ve come a long way. Flautas are another one of my family’s favorite Mexican dinners. Yes, they look like taquitos and you go ahead and call them whatever you want. The thing about Mexican food (or any food really) is that the names, ingredients, and preparation of the same dish changes depending on where you are. To me, they’re flautas, which means “flutes.”
I’m not gonna lie though, rolling these little babies sucks. If you can enlist the help of someone to take over that job while you do the rest, it’s not so bad. And if you cook for a normal amount of people it probably won’t suck so much. It just seems like every time I make these I end up making a bazillion because they get eaten as fast as they come out of the pan.
A normal serving size of flautas at a restaurant is usually like 4. I assure you, you will eat more than 4 of these. Good luck to you to stop before 8. They’re that good.
I’ve kind of Americanized these, just a little. My favorite way to eat them is with fresh guacamole, Mexican crema, and some kind of Mexican cheese like queso fresco or queso cotija. Which is a little more traditional. Of course I always aim to please and my mom won’t eat them without the tomatillo dressing. The flauta itself is totally traditional according to my Mexican friend Maria. You choose the sides and that will determine the level of authenticity your meal takes on.
I’ve also Americanized the preparation a little. Let me be honest and say I do not know a single Mexican woman who owns a crockpot. They will all tell you to boil the chicken in a pot on the stove, with onion, garlic, and a bay leaf. I much prefer to throw it in a crockpot. It’s soooooo much easier to shred and it can cook in the sauce so you dirty less dishes. Trust me on this one.
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 tomatoes
- 1/4 white onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp. chicken boullion
- 24 corn tortillas
- canola or vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1.5 tbsp. ranch dressing mix
- 3 whole tomatillos, husks removed
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeds removed
- shredded lettuce
- Mexican crema
- tomatillo dressing
- queso fresco (or queso cotija)
- Blend together tomatoes, onion, garlic, water, and chicken bouillon to make the sauce. Place the chicken breasts into the crockpot and cover with sauce and a bay leaf. Cook on low for 8 hours (4 hours on high).
- You will know the chicken is ready when you can easily shred it with two forks. Beware not to overcook it to the point it becomes mushy.
- Flash fry the tortillas in oil so that they are still pliable. You can also heat them up in the microwave in a plastic bag but flash frying will prevent them from getting too wet and falling apart.
- Place about 2 tbsp. of chicken about 1/3 of the way up the tortilla and roll. Make sure the tortillas are not too full or you will have a hard time keeping them closed. Place seam side down on a platter.
- Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan and fry the flautas in batches (always start with the seam side down). Place enough in the pan to keep them from rolling and opening. Turn several times to ensure even browning on all sides.
- When finished, place fried flautas on another platter lined with a couple of layers of paper towels to soak up excess oil.
- Blend all ingredients together in a blender.
- Align flautas on a plate and top with lettuce, crema, and crumbled cheese. Use guacamole and tomatillo dressing for dipping or pour over the top.
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What was your first major cooking experience?