Tonight I had planned to tell you about a delicious Cinnamon Roll Cake. A cake so good that it has been made twice in the past few weeks, and both times, it has disappeared before I could even grab a picture of it. If I didn’t talk about the cake, it was going to be about these really unique paninis that we had last night. Paninis with an unusual mix of ingredients that you would never think to put together. But like Strawberries Pazzo, they just work. But then Chicken Flautas hit the table for dinner tonight and all thoughts of cinnamon cake and paninis went out the window.
I was catching up on my Tivo’d shows the other night, and happened to watch a rerun of Sunny Anderson’s Cooking for Real. The focus was Mexican-inspired food, and the Chicken Flautas were the star of the show. Knowing I had half a package of tortillas in the fridge, I made a mental note to grab the recipe. All in the interest of using ingredients that are on hand. And the cilantro the recipe called for? Fresh from our garden. Love that.
Using rotisserie chicken and other simple ingredients that you probably have on hand already, the dish comes together really fast. Even better, it only uses two pans, and I’m all for that these days. Knowing Nick would want no part of this, I kept some rotisserie chicken on the side for him and his sister to eat, and they were quite content with that.
But the flautas? Oh man, the flautas. Perfectly crispy, but crazy flaky. I wanted to scarf the whole pile down, but managed to restrain myself at two, figuring I’d save some for the babysitter’s lunch tomorrow (oh and mine too!). These would be perfect as an appetizer for a weekend of entertaining, or a Mexican dinner. Because they come together so quickly, they’ll even work well on those crazy weeknights where you’re jetting from one sports practice to another.
The thing that I love about Sunny’s recipes is that they are decidedly unfussy, but with that, you’re not giving up taste. Using ingredients that you usually have on hand, her dishes come together quickly, easily and we haven’t had a dud yet.
P.S. I didn’t use her Avocado Cream recipe, but instead used my own Guacamole Cream recipe. Similar but slightly different. Either one is the perfect foil for dipping the flautas.
Recipe courtesy of Sunny Anderson, Food Network
For the Flautas:
- Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 small red onion, diced (I used yellow onion)
- 1 jalapeno, diced (I skipped)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I skipped)
- 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat finely shredded
- 1 cup salsa
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar/Monterey Jack blend
- 1 lime, juiced
- 16 (5 to 6-inch) flour tortillas
- 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce, for serving
For the Avocado Cream:
- 1 very ripe avocado, halved, pitted and flesh removed
- 1 (4-ounce) container sour cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Fill a large pot with enough oil to reach 2 inches up the side of the pan. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reads 375 degrees F. To make the flautas: In a pan over medium heat melt butter and saute onions and jalapenos until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant, another 2 minutes. Add chicken and salsa; stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, cheese and lime juice. Let cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Working with 4 tortillas at a time, spread a heaping spoonful along the middle of each tortilla. Roll tortilla tightly around the filling and secure with a toothpick. Using tongs, hold each flauta in hot oil until firm, then release to continue cooking. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt. Keep flautas warm in the oven on a sheet tray while assembling and cooking the remaining tortillas.
To make the Avocado Cream: In a serving bowl, mash avocado, sour cream and lime juice until smooth. Season with salt, to taste.
To serve, arrange flautas on a platter of shredded lettuce and serve with Avocado Cream on the side.