Recipe: Chicken Flautas with Avocado Side Salad

A few weeks ago, I bought the smallest pack of corn tortillas I could find to make some sort of shrimp tostada dish or something like that (whatever it was, it obviously wasn’t very successful, because I didn’t post it here). Well, “smallest pack” meant “use four for dinner and have upwards of twenty left over,” so I’ve been trying to get creative and use them up. I tried making baked tortilla chips (my boyfriend and I are trying to be smart about what we eat) without much success, then I made some sort of kinda awful tacos (you really can’t eat those tortillas right out of the pack; they are not at all like soft taco shells), but finally, I came across this recipe for flautas while browsing Pinterest food boards and it looked like a winner. I did my usual “look at the recipe, then ignore 85% of it and do it my own way” thing that I like to do and made my own version of these tasty little crispy rolls. Obviously, frying them up in oil makes them not quite as healthy as they could be, but I tried to keep the oil levels to a minimum and balanced the dish out with a fresh side salad of avocado, baby bell peppers, and red onion.
Chicken Flautas with Avocado Side Salad

Serves: 2 (makes 2-3 flautas per person)

Prep. time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

 

Ingredients

  • 1 large chicken breast
  • Chicken stock
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Ground ancho chile or other ground, dried pepper
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • Sour cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cojita cheese, crumbled or shredded
  • 4-6 corn tortillas
  • Vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 avocado, flesh cut into chunks
  • Approx. 6 baby bell peppers, sliced*
  • Approx. 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

*Cut from end to end to get circular slices

 

Directions

Bring a small-to-medium pot of chicken stock to a boil, then add the chicken (liquid should just cover the chicken breast) and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken breast (the leftover broth can be used as stock for another meal or it can be tossed) and set in a bowl. Using a fork, shred the chicken breast by running the fork through the flesh and pulling it apart; shred the chicken into the bowl. In a small bowl, blend together a few tablespoons each of sour cream and mayo, then add approx. 1-2 tsp. each of all of the dry seasonings in the ingredient list, along with a splash of lime juice and some lime zest, then whisk to blend. Toss the mixture with the chicken until fully coated (chicken should not be soaked in this creamy blend but, rather, lightly coated); add more dry seasoning as desired. Add a heaping handful of cojita cheese and toss to combine. Cover and set aside in the fridge.

In a large, deep skillet, heat vegetable oil—about 1.5 to 2 inches deep—over medium high heat. While it’s heating up, lay 4-6 corn tortillas out on a flat surface. Remove the chicken mixture from the the fridge and spoon some of the mixture onto each of the tortillas. Roll each tortilla tightly and pierce each one with a toothpick to keep them shut and form your flautas. When the oil is hot (about 375*F; if you throw a little piece of tortilla in the oil, it should immediately start bubbling), start adding in the flautas. Let them cook for about a minute, then turn, making sure to turn so that each side has a chance to fry; do not overcook them or let them sit in one spot for too long—they brown easily. As they finish, remove them from the pan and set on a paper towel-lined paper plate to drain excess oil.

In the meantime, heat a little oil in a small pan. Add the red onion and peppers, season with a little salt and pepper (and other seasonings, as desired), and cook until crisp-tender. Remove from pan and toss with the avocado, a little more salt and pepper, and fresh lime juice. Serve the flautas on top of the salad, with a dollop of sour cream added, if desired.

 

Cook’s Commentary

This is the best of both worlds: healthy, fresh food and crunchy, fried food combined to make the perfect dinner. The “salad” is fresh and flavorful, with the creamy texture of the avocado blending deliciously with the sweet and spicy flavors of the red onion and peppers. The chicken flautas are crispy on the outside and the chicken mixture within is tender, a little spicy, a little tangy, and oh-so-tasty. I had a little of the “sauce” mixture that I tossed the chicken with left over, so I served that as a dipping sauce, but a spoonful of sour cream or, if you want to splurge, a drizzle of queso, would work as well.

Recipe: Beer-and-Butter “Low Country Boil”

Ingredients

  • Red potatoes, cut into small chunks*
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2-4 ears of corn, peeled, silk removed, and cut into chunks
  • Butter (salted is preferable)
  • 1 bottle of lager beer**
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Dried parsley
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pam spray
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined***

*Use your judgement when figuring out how many to cut up. For my boyfriend and I, I cut up about 5-6 medium potatoes.

**I recommend lagers, red ales, or golden ales. DO NOT use something cheap, like Bud or Coors. You’re looking for something with good flavor (but nothing too overpowering).

***I used a bag of frozen shrimp—you just thaw them under cold water, pop off the tails, and they’re ready to go.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400*F and spray a large baking dish with Pam. Add the red potatoes, red onion, and corn to the pan. Sprinkle with Old Bay (or similar) seasoning, dried parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and add just a dash of crushed red pepper flakes, then toss to coat (add more seasoning and toss again, if desired—I did). Pour approx. ¾ of the bottle of beer over the dish, then sprinkle small chunks of butter on top of the mixture. Lightly spray the top of the mixture with Pam and place in the oven to cook for approx. 40 minutes. As it’s cooking, you may find that you need to increase the temperature (up to 450*F, but no higher) or increase or even reduce the cooking time. When determining if it’s finished and ready to eat, you’re looking for the red potatoes to be fork tender (i.e. you can easily poke them with a fork, or better yet, you can easily slice them with a knife), the onions and corn will be tender, and some of the beer will have cooked down.

Now, while the veggie mixture is cooking, heat a medium nonstick skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook until they just start to shrink a bit and get some color. Add the remaining beer, some butter, Old Bay, salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic powder. You’re looking to create a buttery, light brown, semi-thick sauce (you don’t want a watery beer mixture—you want to cook down the liquid to get a thicker sauce); enough to not only coat the shrimp but create some excess to pour into the veggie dish. Once done, take the shrimp off of the heat and set aside until the veggies are in their last 10 minutes or so of cooking. Take the veggies out of the oven for just a minute and pour the shrimp and sauce mixture evenly over the top, then place back in the oven for the remaining time. The finished dish should have a decent amount of beer and butter swirled together at the bottom of the pan (this mixture is incredibly flavorful and also helps keep the veggies and shrimp nice and moist). Serve on a plate, or in a bowl if you’re looking to have more sauce on/in your dish and add a sprinkling of Old Bay and dried parsley, if desired.

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Cook’s Comments

This dish is probably in my top 5 for things I’ve made over the years. The combination of beer and butter should go down in the books alongside mint and chocolate, Oreos and milk, and salt and pepper.  It’s spicy, buttery, savory, and rich, and the pop of flavor from the Old Bay really brightens the dish. Cutting the corn into chunks can get a bit tricky, because you really need to eat this dish with a fork, but it’s kind of impossible to eat corn like that…so, feel free to cook the corn up separately and just pour some of the sauce over it at the end (or, just do what my boyfriend and I did and dig in…do that awkward switch from forks to fingers and don’t worry about it). Feel free to experiment with beers a bit. Do not use a crappy beer like Natural Light or Keystone…the beer imparts great flavor, so you need a lager (or perhaps a lighter red or brown ale) in this dish. I’ve used Sam Adams Boston Lager and Ghost River Golden Ale (from Memphis!), and you could always try a favorite craft brew. You might even be able to experiment with a hard cider or
apple ale if you’re feeling adventurous—the apple flavor could pair well with the dish (though, I’d recommend sticking to beer the first time out).