Crisp Chicken Flautas


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1 large tomato, diced
Salt to taste
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chipolte adobo purée
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup shredded, cooked dark chicken meat
Eight 6-inch corn tortillas
Vegetable oil for frying, about 24 ounces
4 cups shredded Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup crema, crème fraîche, or thinned sour cream
1/4 cup finely grated queso fresco or ricotta salata
Heat the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium
heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent and soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add
garlic and jalapeño and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, season lightly with
salt, and cook until tomato juice is rendered and slightly thick, about 3
minutes. Add the bay leaves, chipolte adobo purée, sugar, oregano, and
thyme. Bring to a boil and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and
the mixture is thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in chicken and cook for another
4 to 5 minutes, until the filling is moist but not wet. Check seasoning and
adjust if necessary. Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature,
and discard bay leaves.

Wrap the tortillas in a kitchen towel and microwave for 1 minute. Let stand
for 2 more minutes in the warm towel. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling
in the center of a tortilla and roll into a tight cylinder to enclose the
filling; secure the ends closed with 2 wooden toothpicks. Repeat steps with
remaining tortillas.

Preheat oven to 250ºF.

Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat
until hot but not smoking. Fry flautas in batches turning them often until
crisp and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer fried flautas to a paper
towel–lined plate to drain. To keep the flautas warm while frying remaining
batches, place them in the oven until ready to serve.

To serve, line 4 plates with the shredded Romaine lettuce. Place 2 flautas,
with the toothpicks removed, on each plate. Spoon salsa over the flautas,
drizzle with crema, and sprinkle with cheese.

Yield: 4 (8 flautas)