28 January 2013

Eats: baked chicken taquitos

Say, how many of you have tried a rotisserie chicken? I promise, picking the already-cooked meat off the bones is not nearly as bad as when you have to cook it yourself (and remember, this is coming from the kid who cried over touching KFC chicken bones). If I didn’t convince you when I listed grocey-store rotisserie chicken among my favorite things... maybe I’ll convince you with today’s recipe. Which is yet another indulgent junk-food-for-dinner dish – or better yet, junk food for your Superbowl party!

I’ve told you before that I avoid purchasing pre-made entrees and snacks from the freezer aisle. But that doesn’t mean I don’t crave those things... which is how I end up making jalapeƱo popper chicken and a giant fancy hot pocket. Preparing those things myself doesn’t really cut out that much fat or even eliminate many preservatives and other wonky chemicals (after all, the ingredients I use have them too). But having slightly more control over the sodium and calories is enough to convince me to make those delicious freezer treats from scratch.

So here’s today’s copycat freezer food recipe, featuring leftover rotisserie shredded chicken: baked chicken taquitos! You frequent the freezer section enough to know taquitos, right? If you’re in a fancy Mexican restaurant, they’re called flautas, but when you bring them to a party and smother them in Rotel cheese dip... they’re taquitos.

Here’s the source recipe, with the ingredients and directions all organized. My disorganized version, on the other hand, starts with this:

That’s all the meat I could pick off one rotisserie chicken breast and wings (Mr. P and I ate the thighs for dinner the previous evening). It was just about the two cups the recipe called for. If you are starting with pre-cooked chicken breasts, cooking and shredded two halves should do it.

After all I just said about making things from scratch, I’ll cop to this: I used a taco seasoning packet instead of all the spices. Ehh, I was lazy this particular day. But at least it was low-sodium! I also added half a block (four ounces) of low-fat cream cheese and the juice from one lime (yes, a whole one).

Next came a quarter-cup of tomatillo salsa. This was, sadly, the best our Italian-American Schnucks had to offer:

Unfortunately the good Mexican food is at different Schnucks in a less-safe neighborhood (please note the only negative social commentary I’m making is that Italians do not appreciate a good salsa) so rather than venture into the scary Schnucks, we made do with that. I was unimpressed. If you can get better tomatillo salsa, go for it.

I skipped the green onions, but I did shake in a little cilantro... and a lot of cheese. At least one cup!

Mix that all together and you’ve got your creamy taquito filling!

Now it’s time to deal with the corn tortillas. I’m usually a flour tortilla girl because they’re way more pliable, but fortunately I learned this trick that makes the corn tortillas workable. Place a few on a plate and cover them with microwave-safe plastic wrap:

Then nuke ‘em for about twenty seconds. The plastic wrap keeps them moist, and the heat makes them pliable.

Place a bit of filling on the tortilla:

And roll ‘em up! If you’re speedy, you can get an assembly line going where you can fill three tortillas while microwaving the next three. I wouldn’t recommend microwaving a lot of tortillas at once... they won’t stay warm before you can fill and roll them up, and if they cool, they tear.

Place the filled taquitos on a greased baking sheet. You should end up with about two dozen of the tasty little things, so have a few baking sheets prepared.

And pop them in a preheated 425-degree oven for fifteen to twenty minutes, until they start to brown.

Mine didn’t brown all that much, but then again, I totally spaced and skipped the “spray the tops with cooking spray” part. Oops. I bet that would really crisp them up!

But even as-is, they were delicious. With more filling that the frozen store-bought kind, you won’t end up stuffing fifteen taquitos in your mouth. (Of course, you’ll still eat the equivalent of fifteen store-bought taquitos, but that’s not the point.) As a bonus, you can totally freeze these, too! The source recipe has directions.

We ate ours immediately, though, with sour cream, homemade guacamole, and a simple side salad:

Do I even need to tell you how awesome your friends and family will think you are if you bring these and homemade guac to a Super Bowl gathering this weekend? Who cares about Baltimore or San Francisco, GO YOU. You’ll be a rockstar. Enjoy!