Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rolled Tacos

According to the Wikipedia, taquitos are small rolled-up tortillas with some sort of filling, usually beef or chicken. They are also called Rolled Tacos, and sometimes (usually when made with flour tortillas) Flautas.

I first came upon these things as flautas when I was living in Miami. A few restaurant had these intriguing things in the appetizer sections called "Flautas" and I tried some. I wasn't particularly impressed with them at the time; they seemed to be crispy rolls that didn't really have much to offer as far as taste was concerned—they just didn't have enough filling in them for my taste.

Over the years, I saw flautas on menus, usually as an appetizer, but occasionally as an item in the "combination plates" as well. I didn't really dislike them, but I never really found myself impressed with them. In fact, my impression was that they were just chimichangas with smaller tortillas and without most of the filling. Almost always, they were served "dry" without any sauce on top as a chimichanga would be served, but with some sort of salsa to accompany them.

I'm not sure when I first encountered taquitos by that name. I'm pretty sure that, like flautas, they were on the appetizer or combinations section of Mexican menus. I noticed something about them almost immediately: they tasted better. I think the difference (to me) was that fried corn tortillas have an inherent crunch and taste that is simply lacking in flour tortillas. They still didn't have much as far as filling was concerned, but they were a step up from flautas to my taste.

Today, you can find taquitos in many supermarket freezer sections. Get a box of ten or twenty and heat them up in your oven. Simple meal or snack. Of course, when I first tried these frozen varieties, I knew that I needed something to dip them into. Salsa was an obvious choice, but I wanted something a bit special for these.

I'm not sure where I got the idea the first time, but I distinctly remember making a spicy ranch dip. I simply put some ranch salad dressing into a small dipping bowl. To this, I added some chili powder and a few drops of hot sauce. Voila! Instant classic in less than a half hour!

While I still get the frozen taquitos, I've noticed that a lot of them are now being made with flour tortillas: exactly what I didn't like about flautas originally! Luckily, the boxes will tell you what you are getting, but you should look carefully!

Recently, I started making taquitos from scratch. I surprised Sandra by making a breakfast for her one weekend. I made an omelet, and added ground chorizo and some salsa to make the filling, which then I wrapped into small corn tortillas that I first sprayed with cooking spray. I assembled the breakfast taquitos onto a cookie sheet and cooked them in the oven for about twenty minutes. Sandra really liked the result!

Sandra noticed recently that Rachael Ray had a recipe for taquitos on her "Thirty Minute Meals" show, and she asked me to capture the recipe for her into our recipe collection.

I'm excerpting her recipe below, which also includes some burritos (you decide if you want both taquitos and burritos!).

Poquito and Grande: Taquitos and Burritos

Source:Rachael Ray—30 Minute Meals—Food Network
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:30 minutes
Yield:6 to 8 servings


2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 can chopped green chiles, 4 ounces

A few leaves fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped

Vegetable or canola oil, for frying

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Season the chicken with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and mix in the chiles and cilantro or parsley. Dip the tortillas in 1-inch warm oil to soften. Tightly roll a couple of forkfuls of chicken up in the tortillas. Place seam side down and bake 12 minutes.

Dipping Sauce For Burritos And Taquitos

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon chili powder, a palm full

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin, ½ a palm full

A pinch ground cinnamon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted crushed tomatoes

Heat a sauce pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, red onion and garlic and soften 5 minutes then season with sugar, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir in the fire roasted tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer.


8 (8-inch) flour tortillas

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 ½ pounds ground pork

1 small zucchini, grated

2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons (medium to hot) chipotle in adobo, mashed into paste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (19-ounce) can black beans (recommended: Progresso)

2 cups shredded Chihuahua cheese or Monterey Jack or Cheddar

½ head iceberg lettuce, or 1 heart romaine, shredded

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Add the pork, brown it for 2 minutes then add in zucchini, garlic, chipotle in adobo and salt. Cook for about 7 to 8 minutes more.

Heat the last tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a small nonstick skillet. Add the black beans and mash with a fork. Season the beans with salt and fry until crisp at edges, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Soften tortillas in microwave or in hot oven. On each tortilla pile a little refried black beans, cheese, pork and lettuce. Tuck in the sides then wrap and roll the tortilla.

Bon Appetit!

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