Someone asked me recently what my favorite type of food to cook is and after some initial hedging that there is NO way I could pick a favorite, I chose Mexican. Mexican, Tex-Mex, or even Mexican-influenced might be a more appropriate way to describe it because I can’t claim that any of my dishes are authentic. I just love how fresh so much of it is, how creative you can be with salsa, and how much variety there is.
Some of my favorites include:
- Chicken Tacos with Grilled Corn & Avocado Salsa
- Tacos (classic, American style ground beef tacos)
- Grilled Fajitas
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey Lime Jalapeno Vinaigrette
And now a new favorite –Baked Chicken Taquitos!
I really is fitting that tomorrow, Cinco de Mayo, is my birthday – everyone wants to celebrate with me by eating my favorite food and drinking margaritas, which according to Food Network magazine’s recent Tex-Mex issue are the most popular cocktail in the U.S. So for my birthday, I wanted to post something with a Mexican flare to it.
A few weeks ago, Derek came to me with an idea for dinner – he wanted taquitos and we were going to bake them in an effort to be healthy. And since taquitos really are just a vehicle for the dipping sauce, we needed to make something that would shine (fortunately, I had the base for a tomatillo avocado sauce up my sleeve with this salsa I made for my Tequila Lime Chicken with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa).
So today, I’m going to share with you the tasty results of our baked taquito experiment. Tomorrow on my birthday, the sky is the limit and I will probably be seized with the inability to choose due to the opportunity cost of missing out on all these other yummy Mexican dishes!
Here’s what you need:
I’m going to start with the tomatillo-avocado sauce because it can chill in the fridge while you make the taquitos and all the flavors will get to know each other a bit better.
Start by tossing some peeled (or is it husked? – either way papery skin removed) and halved tomatillos, half a jalapeno, and 3 cloves of garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Pop this into a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes until just starting to brown on the outside.
Toss these in a blender (remove the skin from the garlic first) along with some red onion, lime juice, salt, cilantro, and avocado. The addition of the avocado was the only change I made to the salsa from my Tequila Lime chicken recipe. I knew the avocado would make the salsa nice and creamy.
Once it’s all nice and blended together, take a peak and taste it.
Adjust seasoning as needed and pop this in the fridge.
Next we’re going to sauté a couple chicken breasts. I kept these simple and just seasoned them with salt and pepper. I know odd for a Mexican chicken recipe, but I am going to add more flavor with salsa in a bit. I cooked these in a pan over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes until they reach 165 degrees. You’ll note my chicken was different sized, so I did pull one off about a minute earlier.
What we’re really going for is some pulled chicken, so if you want you could poach it, grill it, or pull it from a grocery store rotisserie chicken. I shredded mine with 2 forks.
And then I did something that some might think is a little odd, I ran my knife through the chicken to make smaller – like browned ground beef. This will make it so when you bite into the taquitos you don’t end up pulling a long piece of chicken out with your teeth. And I pulled first instead of just chopping because that got me to a better starting point. The small pieces of chicken will bind with the salsa and cheese and stick together nicely in the taquitos.
Now toss the chicken with some restaurant style salsa and quesadilla cheese. Mix together and taste – this is going to be your filling. You can definitely play with the type of cheese or salsa flavors.
Now it’s time to roll-up the taquitos. I chose corn tortillas that I warmed in my cloth tortilla warmer. Then top each tortillas with a small amount – a couple tablespoons of filling.
Roll up snugly.
Place seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet (I sprayed mine with a refillable oil sprayer). You could also (and I normally do) line the tray with parchment. I would still lightly oil the parchment though to help promote browning. Then lightly spray the tops of the taquitos so they brown nicely.
Bake them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden. If you see them start to split it means you put in too much filling and/or rolled it a bit too tight. But no sweat they still taste great!
Serve with that tomatillo avocado sauce that’s been chilling in the fridge waiting for some nice warm taquitos.
Yum – I really liked these. They are a great Meixcan-influenced, finger food dish that would be great to serve on Cindo de Mayo, or any other day of the year.
And there is no reason why you couldn’t make a bunch and freeze them to have them handy when you want them. You could also serve them with guacamole, salsa, or sour cream.
- Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce:
- 10 tomatillos, husks removed and halved
- 3 garlic cloves, skin on
- ½ jalapeno
- ½ c red onion, roughly chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt, pinch
- 2 t cilantro
- 1 avocado
- 2 chicken breasts
- 4 tablespoons of restaurant-style salsa
- ½ c shredded quesadilla cheese
- 10 corn tortillas
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spray a second baking sheet with a little oil.
- Add tomatillos, garlic and jalapeno to the baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes until starting to char and brown. Remove skin from garlic and then blend all roasted ingredients with remaining sauce ingredients (through avocado) until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill.
- Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet with a little oil over medium heat. Cook chicken for 6-8 minutes until it reaches 165 degrees. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes and then shred with 2 forks. Run your knife through the chicken until small, like browned ground beef.
- In a bowl, combine chicken with salsa and cheese. Adjust the amount to your personal preference.
- Warm corn tortillas in a tortilla warmer or over a burner. Working quickly, while the tortillas are warm, add a couple tablespoons of chicken mixture to the center of the tortillas in a line. Roll up and place on the greased baking sheet seam side down. Spray tops lightly with oil.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until golden.
- Serve with tomatillo avocado sauce for dipping.