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Dorothy Dean presents: Rolling with ultra-crispy chicken taquitos for Cinco de Mayo

UPDATED: Wed., April 29, 2020

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

With Cinco de Mayo falling on a Tuesday this year, tacos might seem like the obvious way to celebrate. But we’re rolling away from the “Taco Tuesday” trend – literally – and going with taquitos.

A popular Mexican dish, taquitos are corn tortillas rolled around a filling of seasoned meat and cheese, then fried (although you can bake them, too). They’re crisp, delicious and can be dressed up with a variety of toppings and dips.

The filling starts with cooked shredded chicken (a Costco rotisserie or leftovers are great for this) seasoned with cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Lime juice, green chilies and cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese are mixed in, as well.

Before the taquitos are assembled, the tortillas are heated in the microwave, making them more pliable for preparation. Each tortilla is then topped with 2 tablespoons of filling, then rolled and placed seam side down on a baking sheet.

You can then fry or bake them – whatever is your preference. Traditionally taquitos are fried, which makes them ultra-crispy. The latter produces a softer, tender-crisp bite.

You can top taquitoes with all your favorite taco fixings: shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pico de gallo, jalapeños and cilantro. And salsa, sour cream and guacamole are a must for dipping!

Other meats, like shredded beef, pork or turkey, can be used instead of chicken. Or go vegan with beans and rice or roasted veggies. The cheeses can be swapped for whatever you have on hand; a Mexican blend, pepper jack or even cream cheese.

You also can use flour tortillas instead of corn. However, the hashtag #TaquitoTuesday will no longer apply, as the flour wrapper changes their name to flautas. Save those for Friday: #FlautasFriday.

Chicken Taquitos

3 cups cooked shredded chicken

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Juice of one lime

1 (4 ounce) can fire roasted green chilies

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

20 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Oil, if frying

Optional for serving: salsa, guacamole and sour cream

In a large nonreactive bowl, add the chicken, all the seasonings, lime juice, chilies and the cheeses. Stir to combine.

Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel, place on a plate and microwave for 1 minute, or until tortillas are pliable.

To roll the taquitos, put two tablespoons of chicken filling on the lower third of a tortilla. Fold the bottom edge of the tortilla tightly over the filling and snuggly roll from the bottom to the top. Place the seam side down on a greased baking sheet.

To bake the taquitos: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the taquitos seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Lightly brush the taquitos with oil, or, alternatively, spray them with a cooking spray. Bake for 17-22 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. (You can broil them for a few minutes after baking if you want them crisper.)

To fry the taquitos: Heat 1 inch of oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, work in small batches of 3-4 taquitos and fry, flipping as needed to brown evenly until crisp and golden, 3-5 minutes. Using tongs, remove the taquitos to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining taquitos.

Serve alongside salsa, guacamole and sour cream, if desired.

Audrey Alfaro can be reached at spoonandswallow@yahoo.com.

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