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Baked Chicken Flautas with Chunky Tomatillo Sauce

The word flauta translates to flute in Spanish, but in culinary terms it refers to a popular Mexican dish consisting of a flour tortilla, tightly rolled around a filling of meat and cheese and fried until crisp. Ours are made with boneless chicken, Pepper Jack cheese, scallions and cilantro and served with a brightly-flavored, chunky tomatillo sauce. We found that baking them still yields a deliciously crispy flauta, but with far less work, fat and calories.

Be sure to check our recipe notes to see how to convert this recipe to make enchiladas as well.

Baked Chicken Flautas with Chunky Tomatillo Sauce

Baked Chicken Flautas with Chunky Tomatillo Sauce

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 to 1-1/4 lbs chicken tenderloins
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 scallions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 8 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, coarsely shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 lbs tomatillos, cored and cut into small cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil. Brush the foil with a little bit of olive oil and set aside.

Combine the cumin, coriander, salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl.

Trim any visible tendons from the chicken tenderloins and season them on both sides with the spice mixture.

Film the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook until lightly browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a cutting board and cut or shred the tenderloins into small pieces.

Place the chicken in a bowl, add the scallions and cilantro and toss to combine.

Lay a tortilla on flat surface and spread about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture over the bottom third. Top with approximately 1/4 cup of the Jack cheese, roll tightly and place, seam side down on the prepared baking pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and set aside while you start the sauce.

Return the pan you cooked the chicken in to the stove (no need to clean it), add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the jalapeños and garlic and continue cooking just until the garlic is fragrant, 1 minute longer. Stir in the chicken broth and tomatillos, season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the tomatillos have broken down and the sauce has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro and remove from the heat.

While the sauce cooks, brush the flautas liberally with olive oil and place them in the oven until golden on top, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and, using tongs, carefully turn them over and brush with a little additional oil. Return to the oven until that side is golden as well, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

To serve, spoon the tomatillo sauce either alongside or over the flautas and garnish with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings


Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Lime Sauce

To make this enchilada variation, you'll also need about 3/4 cup of queso fresco, mild feta or other cheese as a topping.

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce
Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375°F and coat a small casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Prepare the chicken as directed above, but roll the tortillas more loosely and place them in the prepared casserole.

Prepare the sauce as directed above, but increase the chicken broth to 1/2 cup. Once the sauce has thickened, purée it with a hand-held or conventional blender, then pour it evenly over the enchiladas.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the sauce is bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and top the enchiladas with 3/4 cup of crumbled queso fresco (or mild white cheese of your choice) and return to the oven for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and scallions if desired.

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