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Cuisine

Beef flautas bring back memories for chef

12/12/13 | By Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

I can’t help but to wax nostalgic during the holidays.  Like any family, we have seen the best of times and some of the not so very best of times.  I remember fondly the adventures of life in a large family and  reminisce the first time I was able to win a fight with my older brother.

Then there was the time that we launched bottle rockets at our neighbors’ deck party.  The revelers relished the uninvited missiles and cheered as they were bombarded.  Luckily they were high school kids (older than we at the time) with no parents at home so I guess the activities made their rebellious event even more exciting.

As it is football season, I start thinking about the games seen and arenas visited over the years; RFK, Memorial, Jack Murphy, Astrodome, Cardinals Stadium, M&T et al.  While I’ve never been an out-of-control football fan, I enjoy the sport and when I find tickets I take them; there is nothing like a live game.

This morning an old friend posted about tailgating at Jack Murphy Stadium (now Qualcomm) in San Diego this weekend.  A First Sergeant in the Marine Corps stationed at Camp Pendleton, he frequents the parking lot donning grill, brats and beer before the game to get things going.

And when I picture San Diego, I immediately drift down the coast to Baja Norte, Mexico; one of our favorite stomping grounds.   I was lucky enough to be in San Diego from 1988-1992 and it was somewhere toward the end of my tenure that they started to build condos on the famed K38 surf break cliff.  Before then, we would just park on top of the cliff, get a few hours of shuteye and then wake up and go out in the water.

Afterwards we would head to the closest restaurant and eat a lion’s share of flautas or rolled tacos.  In the states we called them Taquitos but in Baja Norte they were Flautas.  

Smothered in lettuce, tomato, sour cream, sharp cheddar (queso blanco in Mexico), salsa and guacamole, these little treasures always sated our starving bodies after a few hours in the chilly ocean.  And they got us ready for a late night in Ensenada or Rosarito.  When visiting the latter we would usually patronize Papas & Beer which back in the late 80s was a small beach joint on the ocean with a volleyball court.  It reminded me of what Seacrets must have looked like in the early days.

Either way, we would have our fill of street food, flautas or fish tacos, empanadas and the warmest, scariest crema fresca (it never made us sick) that ever matched the description of artisanal and delicious.

When recreating the mighty Flauta, all you need is some shredded beef, corn tortillas and a fryer.  For the shredded beef there are three methods:

Sear the beef, add ingredients as noted in recipe below and then finish in a low oven, covered until easy to shred

Cook in a slow cooker over the day until easy to shred

Cook in a pressure cooker which only takes about an hour and a half

In California, on game day, surf day or regular old Marine day we were never far away from the taquitos of Mexico.  All we had to do was drive to Roberto’s, the famous Californian chain of quick service Mexican food.

And as I write this at 7:30 in the morning I realize how hungry I am for a plate of flautas or a nice carne asada burrito.  I need to stop with this nostalgia bit soon, or I’ll be thinking about other foods that will take me back to the days of yore.  All of this memory is making my stomach grumble.

Beef Flautas

enough for 24 flautas

*enough for 4-8 people, depending….

1 lb. Chuck roast

oil, as needed

1 ea. Medium onion, large chunks

1 carrot, large chunks

Beef stock, as needed

1 stick celery, large chunks

2 ea. Bay leaves

Salt & Pepper to taste

Corn Tortillas

Oil for frying

Season the roast and sear in a pan on all sides until nice and brown

Add the vegetables and cook for three minutes

Deglaze the pan with the beef stock and either place covered pan in oven at 200F or in a pressure cooker

Cook until the beef shreds easily and allow to cool until you can handle it

Shred the beef and set aside

Heat the oil to 350F, ensuring that it doesn’t get out of control if you are frying on the stovetop.  I highly recommend a deep fryer that you can buy at any kitchen store for not too much money.  They are safer and quite efficient

Roll a small amount of shredded beef in a tortilla and secure with a toothpick or two

Drop in the fryer until crispy and ask yourself “esto es saludable?”

Make your flautas even ‘healthier’ by topping with crema fresca (you can make your own or buy it at Latin markets in the area), lettuce, tomato, avocado and salsa and guacamole.  It doesn’t get much better than that!  Plus the tomato and avocado act as your Christmas colors so you can bring these to your next holiday party

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