A tasty twist for Taco Tuesdays!
Taco Tuesdays just got a whole lot more interesting and delicious. What’s a taquito, you ask? In Mexico, you’ll usually find them as small, soft corn tortillas, rolled up with a filling of meat and cheese, then deep-fried and served with an array of terrific toppings such as sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce and more. In larger form, they’re often called flautas. I love the crispiness of the fried tortillas but wanted to test out baking the taquitos instead….and it was a very successful experiment. Feel free to play around with the toppings to suit your preference. For example, use guacamole if you prefer (we just really love the simplicity and great taste of diced avocado and lime juice). I’ve given instructions for cooking chicken thighs for the taquitos but (as also explained below) you could easily use leftover roast or rotisserie-style chicken too. Note that you can assemble the taquitos up to 24 hours ahead of time then bake just before serving; just be sure to wrap the tray well before refrigerating so the taquitos won’t dry out.
- 4 large or 6 small boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 2 cups / 500 mL shredded cooked chicken)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) smoked or regular paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) garlic powder
- 1 cup (250 mL) grated Tex-Mex or Cheddar cheese
- 15 – 20 six inch (15 cm) corn tortillas
- 2 – 3 cups (500 – 750 mL) shredded lettuce
- 1 – 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1 medium-large avocado, peeled and diced, drizzled with fresh lime juice
- 1/2 to 1 cup (125 to 250 mL) sour cream
- 2 – 3 green onions, diced
- 1 cup (250 mL) crumbled Queso Fresco or Feta or grated Tex-Mex cheese
- 1 cup (250 mL) salsa
- Wedges of fresh lime, for squeezing
- Start by combining the seasonings in a small bowl; set aside.
- If using uncooked chicken thighs, they can be cooked in an Instant Pot or on the stovetop in a medium-sized saucepan.
- Lightly coat the bottom of the pan (stovetop or Instant Pot) with a little olive or vegetable oil and let it warm up over medium-high heat (use the sauté function of the Instant Pot). Add the chicken thighs and sprinkle with half of the combined seasonings. Cook chicken for 4 – 5 minutes, until nicely browned on the bottom. Flip chicken over and sprinkle remaining seasonings over top. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes more.
- Add 1 cup of water to the pan. On stovetop, bring the water to a boil then cover pot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 30 minutes, until chicken is tender. In the Instant Pot, cover and cook under high pressure for 10 minutes (use the manual button).
- Once chicken is cooked (and Instant Pot has been depressurized), transfer meat to a bowl and shred with two forks while still warm (you can do this with a stand mixer if you have one). Put the shredded chicken in the fridge or freezer to cool. Be sure to reserve and refrigerate the leftover cooking liquid for your next batch of soup!
- If using precooked, shredded chicken, place the meat in a bowl and toss with the combined spices and 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of olive or canola oil.
- Preheat the oven to 425F (if cooking immediately after assembly) and cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- Add shredded Tex-Mex or cheddar cheese to the cooked, seasoned chicken and toss to combine.
- Working with one tortilla at a time, place a heaping tablespoon of the chicken and cheese mixture in the center of the tortilla and roll it up tightly. Resist the urge to add more filling – taquitos are supposed to be small.
- Place each tacquito seam side down on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space between each one. Continue assembling taquitos until you’ve used up all the filling.
- Spray the taquitos generously with olive or vegetable oil (I keep olive oil in a spray pump that can be refilled but you can also use good-quality cooking spray).
- Slide the tray into the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until taquitos are golden brown and crispy.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm, inviting people to add their choice of toppings.
Makes 15 – 20 taquitos; enough to serve 4 – 5 people as a main course or 6 – 8 as an appetizer.