Chicken Flautas Ahogadas
These crunchy, tube-shaped flautas ahogadas — the name roughly translates to “drowned flutes” — are served in a pool of spicy tomatillo sauce, and the idea is to slather each bite in the sauce as you eat. They’re immensely popular in Mexico City, where they’re prepared using long corn tortillas specifically made for the dish. This faster version uses standard corn tortillas and a quick rotisserie chicken filling, but the tomatillo sauce, which is tart with an underlying sweetness, deserves to be made from scratch. Prepare it a day in advance or freeze it to save time. It’s worth making a double batch of the sauce, because it brightens up just about anything: tacos, quesadillas or eggs.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1small white onion, peeled
- 1pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 2serrano chiles
- 1large garlic clove, peeled
- 2cups shredded white and dark meat (about 10 ounces) from half a rotisserie chicken
- ¾teaspoon ground cumin
- ½teaspoon Mexican oregano
- Kosher salt and ground pepper
- 1tablespoon canola oil, plus about 2 cups for frying
- 12corn tortillas
- ½cup Mexican crema
- ¾cup crumbled cotija cheese (about 4 ounces)
- ½cup cilantro leaves and stems
Step 1Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil over high. Thinly slice half the onion crosswise into thin rounds, leaving the remaining onion half in one large piece. Add the onion wedge, tomatillos, chiles and garlic to the boiling water, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until softened and tomatillos take on a yellow-green hue, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and pour the remaining contents of the saucepan into a colander to drain.
Step 2While tomatillos cool, toss the chicken with the cumin, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Step 3Coarsely chop the cooked onion, garlic and chiles, discarding chile stems. Transfer to a blender with 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and blend until chunky. Add the tomatillos and another 1/2 cup reserved cooking water and blend until smooth.
Step 4Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the saucepan over medium. Add the sauce and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup reserved cooking water into the blender jar, swirl around to catch any remnants in blender, then pour the mixture into the saucepan. Simmer over low, stirring often, until flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
Step 5While the sauce cooks, wrap the tortillas in a damp dish towel and microwave, 1 minute. Shuffle the tortillas to redistribute the heat, then microwave, 1 minute more. Transfer to a dry dish towel and wrap tightly to keep warm.
Step 6Heat about 1/2-inch oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high. To test if it’s hot enough, tear off a small piece of tortilla, add to oil and flip after 30 seconds; the tortilla should turn light golden-brown. (You’ll need to make sure the oil is properly heated so the flautas become crisp.) Working with one at a time, pull out a warm tortilla and add about 2 tablespoons chicken in a line down the center of the tortilla. Roll tightly and secure crosswise using two toothpicks.
Step 7Once you’ve rolled all 12 tortillas, gently transfer them to the hot oil using tongs and cook, seam side down, until golden brown on all sides, turning occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. (Work in batches to avoid crowding.) Using tongs, tilt flautas over skillet to allow excess oil to drain, then transfer flautas to a paper towel-lined platter and carefully remove and discard toothpicks.
Step 8To serve, divide the sauce among 4 shallow bowls (about 1/2 cup per serving). Divide the flautas among bowls and slather flautas with crema. Top with cheese, sliced onion and cilantro and serve immediately.