We may be geeks, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to create great things in the kitchen. Some of the best dishes can be made quickly and easily as long as you know what you’re doing. Let’s get cooking!
Growing up, my mother used to make flautas – chicken wrapped in a corn tortilla and then fried in oil – and it was one of the things I missed the most when I started living on my own. Whenever I would visit home, I would have her make them. But then I moved halfway across the country, and the opportunities to have flautas the way my mother made them were fewer and further between.
I had to do something about this.
The problem was, there was no way I was going to be able to make flautas the way my mother made them. It was a day-long process for her, cooking the chicken just right, wrapping the corn tortillas perfectly and then frying them just so. I was nowhere near the patient cook my mother is. But that’s OK, I really didn’t need to be. I called her for some advice the first time I tried to make my own flautas and over the last 7-8 years, they’ve become a part of my culinary repertoire.
Getting the chicken right is the most important part. I’ve found that the best method is to put your chicken breast in a pot and put in enough water to cover the chicken. Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat and then let the water simmer until the chicken isn’t pink. Once the chicken is done, you can shred the meat in a bowl.
While you’re finishing up the chicken, start heating up some canola oil, either in a large pan or – my preferred method – in a deep fryer.
Now, it’s time to get your tortillas ready. As the oil heats up and the chicken cools a bit, you’re going to want to warm up the corn tortillas, either on a griddle over the stove or – if you find it easier – in the microwave (but only for 30-45 seconds). Having the tortillas warmed a bit will make it easier to keep them folded over, which will make cooking them much less difficult.
Unless you really want those shredded chicken pieces floating all around the oil. I won’t judge.
Stack up your warmed-up corn tortillas on a plate. Having them piled up will keep the bottom ones warm while you go top down putting them together. Put a dab of hot sauce down on the tortilla and a couple pieces of shredded chicken. Feel free to add some other things to the mix – green peppers or Portobello mushrooms are good add-ons here. If you’re vegetarian, replace the chicken with the peppers and mushrooms entirely, or with seasoned tempeh.
Wrap the tortillas around your filling of choice. If you’re using a deep fryer, stick a toothpick through the center to keep the tortilla closed and the stuffings in place. Repeat until your basket – or pan – is full.
Fry each basket until the tortillas are at your preferred crispiness. Hopefully, your toothpicks keep the stuffing in place, but if not, you can always stuff them back in later, or just eat it on the side with the rest of your flautas.
Once the batch is done, put them someplace where the oil can drain off the finished product a bit and repeat the process with another batch.
When you serve the flautas, make sure you have a nice salsa ready to go, maybe some sour cream and some guacamole to put on your plate. These will work as an hors d’oeuvres or as a main dish, depending on how many you make and how many people are eating with you.