Chicken Flautas with Cream Cheese

This is what’s known in the biz as a two-fer.  Yes, I know I just posted a chicken flautas recipe but these two recipes were made four months apart, so I feel vindicated and clever for presenting another fun-filled flautas episode.  Consider it and encore, or maybe a sequel.  Either way, flautas deserve attention and they should be enjoyed as often as you can make them, or eat them.

Juxtaposing these two different approaches to flautas illustrates the versatility of Mexican cuisine.  You can wrap anything you want into a corn tortilla, fry it and call it a flauta.  Amazing!

Once again, for this recipe, I had the benefit of starting with chicken that had previously been cooked. 

Ingredients:

3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded

8 oz cream cheese softened

1 ½ tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp Mexican oregano

Red and green chiles (about ¼ cup)

1 1/2 cups spinach chopped

6 corn tortillas

cooking oil for frying

Directions:

Soften the tortillas by adding them to hot oil for several seconds.  Set the tortillas aside.

In a large bowl mix together the shredded chicken, cream cheese, cumin, salt, garlic powder, oregano, chiles and spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Form the mixture into long logs, or snakes, if you like.  Portion the mix by cutting them into sections.  This makes it easy when it comes to rolling up the flautas.

Assemble the flautas by adding a portion of the mix and rolling them up in the softened tortillas.  Skewer two flautas together with a toothpick, to hold them together while they fry.

Pour enough cooking oil into a skillet to about ½” in height.  Set the heat to medium.

Cook the flautas in the hot oil, gently turning with tongs once or twice until they are golden brown on both sides.

Remove the flautas to a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve warm.

But wait, there’s more! 

Flautas are wonderful crispy treat but I think of them as an appetizer.  Here’s an easy way to incorporate them into a full-fledged Mexican feast.

Cheese Enchiladas in Red Sauce

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Colby-Jack cheese

1 cup onion, diced

6 corn tortillas, softened in hot oil

2 cups prepared red enchilada sauce

cooking oil for frying

chopped green onions for garnish

I used homemade red enchilada sauce but the store-bought variety will work, too.

Directions:

Mix the grated cheese and diced onion in a large bowl.  In the same bowl, separate the mixture into six equal portions.

Pour some enchilada sauce into a 8” or 9” glass pie pan.  Pour just enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. 

Roll the enchiladas, just as you rolled the flautas.  Place the enchiladas, seam side down, into the pie pan.

Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce.

Bake at 300° for 20 to 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the enchiladas rest for 5 minutes, before serving.

Serve with Mexican rice and guacamole salad, or sour cream.

Bienvenido a mi casa!  Buen appetito! 

Chicken Flautas with Ricotta Cheese and Mushrooms

I’m convinced that one of the secrets to imaginative cooking is learning how to resist going to the store when you realize you are out of an essential ingredient for a dish.  If necessity is the mother of invention, adversity might be the father.

Lasagna just isn’t lasagna without the lasagna pasta.  That’s a fact.  So, if your heart is truly set on having lasagna and you don’t have the pasta, go to the store and get some.  But, if you’ve just come home from a long day at work, you might dread the thought of getting back into the car to face the teeming masses at the grocery store just to pick up a box of pasta.  That is the conundrum I faced today. 

I reluctantly switched gears and started to think of alternatives for dinner.  I wanted to use the ricotta, because it had been in the refrigerator for a few weeks.  I rummaged through the refrigerator and found some chicken thighs that I had grilled, the previous weekend.  The needle of my culinary compass quickly swung from Italian to Tex-Mex, (who would have guessed?!)

I imagined how I could use cheese and mushrooms and chicken to make flautas (taquitos).  It’s during these kinds of moments of brilliance when I become convinced that I’m on the verge of making a brand new, never-seen-before creation.  I use the flash of inspiration and get to work.

This sort of inspiration is actually a façade, as any honest cook knows, but it is an excellent motivator!  Here is what the all-knowing internet has to say about the matter:  From hispanickitchen.com, “Requesón is a soft Mexican cheese similar in texture to ricotta cheese. It has a mild flavor that can be used for both sweet and savory dishes. Because this cheese doesn’t melt completely when in contact with heat, it is the perfect cheese for golden fried taquitos.”

Chicken Flautas with Ricotta Cheese and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

4 grilled chicken thighs (skin on)

1 cup of uncooked rice

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs butter

3 Tbs cup diced onion

4 large white, button mushrooms, chopped

15 oz ricotta cheese (or queso requesón, if you’re lucky enough)

1 tsp Mexican oregano

¼ cup cooking oil

12 corn tortillas

For the garnish:

1 small white onion, sliced

1 large ripe tomato, sliced

1 orange, sliced

2 cups mixed greens (spinach, lettuce, etc.)

½ cup sour cream

½ cup salsa

Cilantro leaves (as much as you like)

Directions:

Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and reserve one of the skins to flavor the rice.

Set the rice on the stove to boil.  Add one of the chicken skins and cook the rice according to the directions on the package. Remove the skin before serving.

Shred and chop the chicken. Set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. 

Add the onions and sauté until the onions begin to brown.

Add the mushrooms and stir for one minute. 

Remove the onions and mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

Add the ricotta cheese to the onions and mushrooms.  Mix to combine. 

Add the oregano and mix thoroughly.

Add the shredded chicken and mix.  Set aside.

Soften the tortillas by frying in hot cooking oil.  Set aside.

Prepare the flautas.  Lay a tortilla on a work surface and add about 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture.  Form the chicken into a thick bead and roll the tortilla. 

Skewer the tortilla with a toothpick. *Yay for toothpicks*

Assemble the rest of the tortillas and skewer them in sets of three.

Fry the rolled flautas in hot oil, turning a few times, until they are crispy and golden.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Assemble the flautas on a large platter and adorn with the garnishes. 

Enjoy with a delicious red wine, which was intended to pair with the lasagna!