Chicken Flautas

I love recipes with lots of leftovers so that I have food to bring to work for lunch the next day. This recipe is perfect; making between 20 and 24 flautas; enough for almost an entire week’s worth of lunches. Generally Chris Kimball does not make very good Mexican food; this is a recipe that I’ve personally been developing for about 9 months; trying to make my lunchtime chicken taste more like pork or beef. The results are very good; I use tomato paste, dark beans and a few anchovies to add meaty flavor (no, of course it doesn’t taste fishy). I used chicken thighs because they won’t dry out if I cook them until they become shreadable. I guarantee; you will not believe that you are eating chicken. 4-stars; great depth of flavor, but there are textural issues with the tortillas when reheating in the microwave. Optimally, reheat them in conventional oven.

So good you'll forget it's chicken

So good you’ll forget it’s chicken

With beef prices roughly double from what they were a few years ago, I have been eating a lot of alternatives. I posted these pork taquitos earlier this year. While pork is more flavorful with a richer, more succulent texture, chicken is a healthier option.

Comment:

  1. The topping you add can elevate these flautas from 4 to 4-1/2 stars. Some of my favorites toppings include: guacamole or diced avocado, sour cream, lime juice, and of course, salsa. Also, after the tortillas have become crispy (or if reheating in a conventional oven) I love to sprinkle grated cheese over the top and run them under the broiler until the cheese browns a bit.
  2. Sometimes, instead adding vegetable oil to the pot, I use the skin from a few pieces of chicken and render out the fat; using that chicken fat in lieu of vegetable oil. It adds about 4 to 5 minutes; bit does two things: (1) adds flavor, and (2) also helps build up the fond on the bottom of the pan which translates into deeper flavor in the final flautas.
  3. If reheating prepared pre-made flautas, bake in oven at 300-degrees until heated all the way through; about 20 minutes, flipping half way through reheating. If you have to reheat them in a micowave, bake them in Step 14 until the tortillas become very hard, and flip them half way through re-heating.
  4. When I first was developing this recipe I did not add the cheese to the mixture, rather I topped the  chicken prior to rolling (in Step 13) with grated cheese. This had two drawbacks; first the flautas I prepared first had more cheese than the last flautas in the second batch. But beyond that, as the cheese melts during baking it oozes out the open ends and burns.
  5. 4-lbs of chicken thighs yields 1-1/2 pounds of shredded chicken meat. I think I prefer to use closer to 5-lbs.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $11 for 20 to 24 flautas. (plus toppings)
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 3:30 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s doesn’t have a recipe for flautas. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

1/2 bag dried, dark kidney beans, or 29-oz can of beans.
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (see Comment #1)
4-to-5-lbs bone-in chicken thighs
1 large onion
2 jalapeno
1 red bell pepper
2 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 clove garlic
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (3 filets)
juice from 2 limes
1/3-cup chopped cilantro
8-oz mild cheddar cheese
20 to 24 small fajita-size flour tortillas
Server with diced avocado, diced tomato, salsa

  1. For best results, soak 1/2-pound of dried beans for 8 hours or overnight. Use 1-1/2 tablespoons salt for 2 quarts of water. Otherwise if you don’t have dried beans or the time to soak them overnight, you can use 29-ounce can of dark kidney beans.
  2. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs. Pre-heat 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil a large dutch oven set over medium-high burner; when the oil begins to shimmer. Place half the chicken skin-side down in skillet; cook for a total of 7 minutes, turning once, until both sides are golden brown. Wipe out pot using paper towels, add another 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil and repeat this step for the second batch of chicken.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare your ingredients. Dice your onion and jalapeno, removing the seeds (as desired to control the heat of the final flautas). Peel the 2 cloves of garlic. Also in a small bowl, add 1 Tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons coriander, 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
  4. After you are done cooking the second batch of chicken, reduce burner to medium. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, your onion, jalapeno, bell pepper and  and 2 teaspoons salt; allow to soften over medium burner for 5 minutes. Use the liquid exuded from the vegetables to deglaze the bottom of your pan.
  5. Add tomato paste and pressed/minced garlic; continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the contents of the spice bowl from Step 4; allowing the flavors to bloom for 1 minute.
  6. Add chicken stock and beans, bring up to a simmer over high burner. Cover pan, turn down burner to medium-low and maintain a simmer until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thighs registers about 185-degrees, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
  7. Remove chicken to cutting board and allow to rest until cool enough to handle.
  8. Meanwhile, turn up burner to medium and allow cooking liquid to gently boil; about 20 minutes. The beans should become thickened with very little liquid remaining. Meanwhile, begin to pre-heat your oven to 375-degrees.
  9. Use your fingers (or two forks) to shred the chicken, discarding bones and anything that feels like excess fat or cartilage. Add shredded chicken directly to the pot once your beans have finished reducing.
  10. Zest 2 limes and squeeze their juices; adding to the pot; mixing until everything is evenly combined.
  11. Grate cheese on the large holes of a box grater and add shredded cheese to pot. Mix until evenly combined.
  12. Prepare a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, lightly sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray.
  13. Prepare the flautas in batches of 10 to 12. Form 1/4-cup (2-1/2 ounces) of chicken mixture into a line in running along the center of tortilla. Tightly roll up flauta and lay on baking sheet so that the weight of the flauta holds the tortilla closed.
  14. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, then flip for 5 minutes. If you plan to re-heat them in the microwave then bake until the tortillas become very hard.
  15. Repeat from Step 12 with the second batch.
  16. Serve immediate with toppings of your choice (see comment #1).
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