I think the first time I had flautas, I was in my early twenties (which is longer ago than I want to believe). It was over dinner with co-workers at a Mexican restaurant; our boss had taken us out for a holiday meal near year-end. The main things I remembered about that meal were the excellent frozen margaritas (the kind that came out of a machine, very much like a slushy) and the delicious flautas. I'd never had them before and was smitten with the crunchy, meaty, and cheesy bites of what is essentially a rolled up taco. They went very nicely with the frozen margaritas but since I'm not much of a drinker, it's the flautas that stayed with me most.
Whether you call them flautas or taquitos, they're basically small rolled tacos, filled with meat and cheese, commonly fried to give them an irresistible crispness. You might know you can find them in the freezer aisle at the supermarket. I used to stock my freezer with ready-made flautas and occasionally heat up 2 or 3 to have as an evening snack (after dinner), with a soda!! I was young and "wild" once upon a time.
I don't know when I gave up eating flautas. The time right after my son's birth and the early years after that are a little bit of a blur to me, to be honest, and everything was reset in many ways. But I often find myself telling people I love flautas even though I rarely eat them! Mexican food, which I always think of as "fun" food, is something I want to get to know better beyond making quesadillas and having occasional taco nights at home.
Eating at Mexican restaurants is certainly a fun way to learn more about the cuisine but sometimes you have a great meal and other times, you end up a little disappointed. That happened recently when I thought I'd finally introduce my son to flautas; when we tasted them, they were disappointing (sadly lacking in flavor and cheese) and he probably had to wonder why I keep saying they'd be so good.
If you're like me, you're often tempted to try to make for yourself the things you like to eat or foods that you remember fondly. So this was my stab at flautas. This homemade version couldn't be easier, in my opinion! I took Giada De Laurentiis' recipe, which includes a genius shortcut filling made with: shredded rotisserie chicken, prepared salsa (that's the genius part!), cheese, and a little seasoning. But instead of frying the flautas like she does, I decided to simply bake them in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes or so.
I tell you what...these satisfied my flauta fix! The fellas loved them and my son tells me they were far better than the ones we had at the restaurant. There's no reason not to make them - they are fast, easy, and no-mess (not to mention, lower calorie and better for you) when you skip the frying. With the Superbowl coming up, I know we're all thinking about finger foods and fun foods. I think these definitely fit the bill.