Mexican Style Chicken Flautas
Mexican food has had a surge in popularity in the UK and I don’t mean the 2018 re-launch of Taco Bell in London. Small restaurants and food trucks are popping up all over the country shilling out authentic regional cuisine and fusions alike. With the necessary traditional ingredients now more easily accessible, gone are my days of ordering wholesale bags of tortilla flour and stuffing my suitcase with dried chillies, Mexican cheeses and dried mole sauce to last me months until my next visit home. Mexican cuisine is clearly piquing an interest not just as a dining trend, people genuinely want to bring it home and make it their own, and truthfully that is where Mexican food really shines.
In my experience with Mexican food in the UK, generally, most people equate it with the Old El Paso brand and that frankly has a lot to do with availability. If you’re ever thinking about venturing into making Mexican style food you’ll probably directly flock to Old El Paso because it’s widely available across all supermarkets and in most cases, it is the only option in your local store. Now, it is not Mexican food per se but instead, TexMex– hard shell tortillas stuffed with ground beef and topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, Monterey jack cheese (the orangier the better), guacamole, sour cream and of course salsa (the kind you’d submerge a Dorito in)–this kind of food certainly has its own particular charms, it’s not Mexican. However, there is one particular kind of taco that reminds me of the South West hard shell creation: flautas.
Flautas fall into the category of food that is known as antojitos –loosely translated to snacks or munchies – essentially it’s comfort food that can be found in every Mexican home, and served in street stalls and restaurants alike. They are a classic favourite beloved throughout Mexico and exist in every state. Effectively they are stuffed tacos that have been rolled up, deep-fried and covered with toppings. They can be made with different kinds of fillings (shredded meat, cheese or vegetables) and have a variety of toppings (salsa, cheeses, pickles, chillies etc), depending often on the region or style of the cook.
If you’ve been itching to take a crack at making Mexican food at home flautas are a good way to start, let them be your introduction to the myriad of dishes, ingredients and techniques Mexico has to offer. This classic presents a harmony of flavours and textures, the crunchy tortilla with the soft filling topped with hot salsa and cooling sour cream all carefully balanced one on top of the other. For this recipe, I use chicken as the main filling and a combination of salad toppings, crumbly feta, sour cream, and homemade spicy salsa.