Dish of the Week: Chicken Taquitos

Taquitos are way more than just little tacos.
Taquitos are way more than just little tacos.
Photo by Ewan Munro

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're taking a look at taquitos.

A taquito is a small, rolled-up taco that is stuffed with some type of filling -- usually beef, pork, or chicken and cheese -- before being deep-fried. Typically, small corn (maize) tortillas are used, though flour tortillas can be used as well. The flour varieties are often referred to as flautas -- Spanish word for "flute."

In the 1917 Preliminary Glossary of New Mexico Spanish, the word taquito was called a "Mexicanism," as it simply referred to a small taco. Though some people still use taquito to reference small tacos in some parts of New Mexico, the more common definition is the crispy rolled tortilla that we know today.

Despite what some believe, the taquito may not be Mexican creation. A San Diego tortilla factory owner, Ralph Pesqueria Jr., claims to have invented the dish when customers began asking for prepared food items. The factory eventually became a full-fledged eatery called El Indio Restaurant, where taquitos are still served to this day.

This recipe, from Sunny Anderson, uses shredded rotisserie chicken for a quick shortcut. The recipe calls for flour tortillas, but feel free to use corn for a crispier, crunchier finish. Served with a cool avocado cream sauce and loaded with cheese and jalapeño, you can't go wrong either way.

Chicken Taquitos w/ Avocado Cream

Ingredients makes 16 taquitos Vegetable or canola oil, for frying 1 tbsp butter 1/2 small red onion, diced 1 jalapeño, diced 1 garlic clove, minced 1 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 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 Salt 16 (5 to 6-inch) flour or corn tortillas 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce, for serving Special equipment: toothpicks, thermometer

For the avocado cream: 1 very ripe avocado, halved, pitted and flesh removed 4 oz sour cream 2 tbsp fresh lime juice Salt

Directions

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.

In a pan over medium heat, melt butter and saute onions and jalapeños 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 taquito 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 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 on a platter of shredded lettuce and serve with a side of avocado cream.


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