(Flute Shaped Tacos)
Flautas are a safe menu to serve, no matter what crowd is coming over. Everybody loves them. The unfried flautas can be frozen until you need them. They can be fried after a minimum of thawing. If you have a thundering herd of vegetarians headed your way, substitute refried beans, cheese, or strips of chilies for the chicken filling.
When you select your tamarind beans, make sure they have no bugs, that the outer shells are mostly intact, and that the shell breaks cleanly away from a moist internal pod of fruit. Agua de Tamarindo does not have an exciting color like most of the beverages on the market today, and it does need a stir every now and then, but those who try it love it.
• 50 fresh corn tortillas, either homemade or store bought
• 4 chicken breasts, with ribs (enough for 5 cups of cooked chicken)
• 1 onion, halved
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 serrano chile, whole
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 ½ lbs fresh tomatillos, or 1 28oz can of tomatillos, water drained
• 1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
• 2 cups oil for frying
• ½ cup Mexican sour cream, or cream fraiche
• 2 cups shredded lettuce
• 1-2 tomatoes, diced
• ½ onion, sliced thinly
• 1 cup queso fresco, or feta cheese, crumbled
Boil chicken with onion, garlic, chile, and bay leaf, until chicken is cooked, Remove from heat. Allow chicken to cool on a plate, and reserve broth for another meal. When chicken is cool, remove skin and bones, and shred finely.
Husk and wash tomatillos (no washing or husking or cooking needed if using canned tomatillos). Place in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. When tomatillos turn from bright to dull olive green, they are cooked, about 10 minutes. Drain water from pan. Place cooked or canned tomatillos with avocado in a blender. Puree well. Salt to taste and set aside.
Wrap tortillas in a cloth towel, and heat for 2 minutes in the microwave. This will make the tortillas pliable for rolling into flautas. Place about 2 tablespoons of the chicken in a line to one side of the center of the tortilla. Start rolling up the tortilla on the side where you placed the shredded chicken, and roll into a tightly formed flute. Place in a baking pan until all the flutes have been rolled, keeping them together tightly, with the seam side down.
Heat oil in a large pan. Fry flutes, seam side down, until they start to brown, about 8 minutes. Try to keep them close together, so they will not unroll. Turn once and brown for 2-3 more minutes. Remove from oil, and drain on paper towels. Continue frying remaining flutes.
Place cooked flautas on a serving platter. Pour green sauce over, then drizzle with sour cream. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and crumbled cheese. Serve immediately.
Note: If your flautas keep unrolling, your tortillas need to be hotter. If that fails, try toothpicks to keep them together while frying. Remove toothpicks before serving. If you are serving these to guests, you can fry the flautas in advance, and hold them for a short time in a warm oven. If you can’t find Mexican sour cream or cream fraiche, take some regular sour cream, and thin it with some milk. Do this at the last minute, as the sour cream will thicken again fairly quickly.