The first time Micah made us flautas was Cinco de Mayo 2014 (“Poof, you’re a flauta!” Very complex transfiguration). He roasted up a mess of chicken thighs, shredded the meat, and packed it into corn tortillas lightly crisped in my Le Creuset dutch oven. This is actually the origin story of one of my favorite pet names for Micah–Fry Daddy–which avid readers of Buttertooth may appreciate. Easter egg, y’all!
Micah has made these flautas countless times: first for his family & friends in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, inspired by the cilantro-laden cream sauce one of his high school friend’s mother served him many, many years ago (I’ll let him tell you just how many). The recipe’s evolved over the years–now he pairs it with his ultra-fresh & citrus-heavy pico de gallo and tops it with his own crema that I swear to gaw is ambrosia straight from the kitchen on Mount Olympus. Micah contends that authentic Mexican cuisine is simple, about layering fresh flavors to create something that, when combined, echoes a complexity not necessarily first apparent in its ingredient list.
On a side note, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, as many believe (that’s September 16th); nor is it Day of the Dead, as Beckie thought her entire sophomore year of high school. On this day in 1862, the Mexican army defeated French forces in the town of Puebla. That victory engendered a sense of national pride still felt today. It should be viewed this way, as a day to reflect upon Mexican spirit, culture & traditions that have enriched our own sense of self as an America.
So–enjoy your Tecate or passionfruit margarita–no one’s telling you to put it down, gur–but take also a moment to stay present and thank the place & people & food that brought you to this moment. It’s Mexico, it’s a flauta & fresh pico, it’s Micah, it’s his grandmother, it’s her mother.
- 3-4 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped
- ½ a red onion, diced
- 1-2 jalapeños, seeded & diced
- 1-2 oranges, segmented + the juice
- Juice of 3-4 limes
- Finely dice first four ingredients, and mix together.
- Using a small sharp knife, carefully cut off the orange peel and white pith from the oranges. Cut the orange slices out at their natural segment, allowing them to fall out into bowl of ingredients. Using your hand, squeeze excess orange juice into bowl.
- Squeeze in lime juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
- 3-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (depending on size)
- 16 corn tortillas
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, salt & pepper, ground cumin & garlic powder.
- Place breasts skin side up on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a thermometer reaches 160-165 degrees F.
- Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow the meat to rest 10 minutes before de-boning and dicing or shredding.
- Pre-heat oil over medium heat to 350 degrees in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet.
- Working individually, spread a spoonful of the diced/shredded chicken along the middle of a tortilla.
- Roll the tortilla tightly around the chicken filling and secure with a toothpick. Carefully drop the flauta into the hot oil, turning occasionally, and cook 1-2 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the flautas from the hot oil and serve immediately, or transfer to cookie sheet lined with a cooling rack to keep warm until ready to serve in an oven heated to 200 degrees.