Chicken Flautas with Cotija and Salsa Roja
Flautas, flavorful miniature tacos that are a perfect finger food, are usually deep-fried until fully cooked. In this chicken flautas recipe, the corn tortillas get just a brief flash-fry, just to soften them for filling and rolling, and are finished in the oven, which both saves hands-on time and keeps them a bit healthier than their retail counterparts.
- 2 tsp. ancho chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1⁄2 tsp. onion powder
- 1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano flakes
- 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne
- 2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approximately 1 lb.)
- 6 tbsp. canola oil, separated
- 1 large white onion, half thinly sliced and half chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 8 oz. cotija cheese or queso blanco, crumbled
- 4 plum tomatoes, stemmed and chopped
- 1 jalapeño, stemmed and chopped
- 4 sprigs cilantro, torn
- 24 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- Combine spices and 2 tsp. of salt and sprinkle evenly over chicken breasts. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add chicken, sliced onion, and 1 clove garlic. Cook until the chicken is browned and no longer pink in the center, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken, onion and garlic to a medium bowl and allow to cool until able to handle.
- While the chicken rests, make the salsa roja: Puree the chopped onion, remaining garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño, and cilantro in a blender until smooth, about one minute. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the sauté pan and heat tomato mixture until slightly thickened and reduced to two cups, about 18-20 minutes. Season the mixture to taste and transfer salsa to a serving bowl, reserving 1⁄3 cup.
- Using your fingers, shred the cooled chicken, and toss with the reserved salsa and the crumbled cotija, mixing well. Season with salt to taste and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425°, with racks in upper and lower thirds, and line two 11″x 17″ rimmed baking trays with foil. Wipe out pan and add remaining oil. Fry tortillas one at a time for 2-3 seconds per side until just soft; remove from oil and place on one of the prepared trays in sets of four. Place 2 Tbs. filling in a vertical line down the center of each softened tortilla, and roll up tightly. Place seam-down on the second tray, leaving 2 inches of space between each flauta. Repeat with remaining tortillas, arranging half on each tray. Bake 30-35 minutes, alternating racks and rotating trays halfway through cooking time until flautas are crisp and deep golden. Serve warm with salsa roja on the side.
Note: If you want to fry the flautas, just increase the amount of oil you’ll need to one cup. Fry the flautas in batches of six for 2-3 minutes per side (10-12 minutes total), until deep golden and crispy. Place finished flautas on a paper towel-lined tray and keep them in a 200° oven until ready to serve. Whether you fry or bake, to maximize margarita time, you can make the chicken filling and salsa roja up to a day in advance.