Sunday, August 1, 2010

A tale of a late dinner.

Sometimes, your best ideas are borne out of necessity and scarcity. Thus was the case for Horacio and my dinner the other night. As it often does, it seems like it took almost no time for us to end up at the crossroads of dwindling daylight, closed grocery stores, not enough ingredients, and (most importantly) two very empty stomachs. A truly critical situation indeed.

So what was the solution to making a satisfying meal that was quick, simple, and tasty? Horacio's answer was Flautas, and I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to make one of my favorite dishes (and add a little of my own invention to boot.

Now, I'm almost embarrassed to say that my experience with Mexican food preparation consists of emptying the contents of a box, stirring everything together, and eating the whole thing on some variation of fried cornmeal. I've been slowly introducing myself to Latin cooking over the course of the last few months, but I've failed to focus on one regional style. Perhaps this was my time to change that... perhaps.

We quickly ran to the closest open store to pick up just a few remaining ingredients, but for the most part we had everything we needed. It never ceases to amaze me that most people need look no further than their own cabinets for the ingredients to make a great meal, and this was no exception. Too often I find myself heading to the store to buy groceries I just don't need, when I have the ingredients I need to make a fantastic meal on hand. I am usually just too lazy to think creatively about it.

The flautas were simple: take chicken breast, boiled in water, salt, and just a bit of olive oil (Horacio's task). wrap them in corn tortillas, and fry in a pan. Now, trust me when I say that you could stop right here. These were so simple yet so delicious that I could have just ate them as they came out of the pan. (I believe I may have even done this with once or twice without Horacio noticing.) Fear not though, this writer hasn't lost his mind. I was ABSOLUTELY NOT content with just the flautas and proceeded, while Horacio was preparing the chicken, to make a smoky, tangy, and most importantly hot-spicy sauce to compliment the delicious little flutes. I adapted my recipe for a chipotle-lime marinade to make a thick mole perfectly adapted to top or dip these finger foods in.

I am a huge proponent in the addition of heat to my cooking, but ONLY if it has flavor. I have little respect for sauces that are hot for the sole purpose of being hot, as they usually numb your tongue and have as much flavor as my gel insoles (when new, of course). But this sauce manages to be fresh and smokey, hot and bold, flavorful and full of a heat that conjures images of the coals of a campfire where the flames have just gone and all that's left are the red hot coals; a slow burn that simply builds and builds without getting in the way of all of the flavors that are present.

The best part is, the whole meal came together in less than an hour because there were two hands on the work, and the result was every bit as good as the meals I've spent days planning. Just remember, if you can't take the heat, stay out of our kitchen.

Chipotle Lime Mole:
1 can of Chipotle Peppers packed in Adobo.
The juice of 2 limes
3T of tequila
1T Water
1/4c Cilantro (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend to desired smoothness.

4 medium chicken breasts
Kosher Salt
Olive oil.
Queso Fresco
Chipotle Lime Mole
Vegetable oil for Frying

In a medium stock pot bring 6-8 cups of water and a healthy amount of salt to a boil (enough to cover the chicken breasts completely.) reduce to a lightly rolling simmer and add the olive oil and chicken to the water. Allow to boil for at least 40 mins until the chicken breast is tender and can easily be shredded with a fork. Remove breasts and shred on a plate. Then, in a deep skillet, add enough canola oil to fill about a 1/4" deep portion of the pan and bring to medium-high heat. Take a small amount of the shredded chicken and spread a thin line of the chicken onto a heated corn tortilla. (horacio proved me wrong that these should be heated in a microwave for about a full minute or so prior to adding the chicken in order for them to be pliable enough. Do so while they are wrapped in a wet paper towel.) Wrap the tortilla tightly around the chicken to create the "flute" and place, flap side down into the oil for about 90 seconds. Flip and continue cooking on the other side for another 60-90 seconds. Remove from oil, tilt to drain excess oil, and place on a paper-towel lined plate.

Plate the flautas on a plate, and top with the queso and the mole. Be sure to enjoy with your fingers, or you'll be missing out on all the fun. Last, be sure to keep a big glass of milk nearby for when the chipotles max out your tolerance.

1 comment:

rstoica14888 said...

mmmm..sounds good! I had your mom and friends over on Monday for dinner, and we had a Mexican night as well. She also kept saying that "Brett would love this"...and now I see why!

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