Text by Joe Yonan (c) 2018, The Washington Post
I knew and loved taquitos long before I tried one from 7-Eleven, where they rotate along with the hot dogs (and plenty of grease) on that roller grill. At the Tex-Mex restaurants of my youth in San Angelo, Texas, they were called "flautas" for their flute shape, but they were the same thing: tortillas rolled around a filling - typically chicken or beef - and fried. Except they were crispier, lighter and, of course, fresher than the convenience-store variety.
I'm not sure why I had never made them myself until so recently. But it probably had something to do with the fact that I associate them (wrongly) with meat and that deep-frying can seem like too much of a project for quick weeknight cooking.
When I saw a recipe for black-bean taquitos in the new book "Hot for Food: Vegan Comfort Classics" by Lauren Toyota, I knew it was time to give them a try. As it turns out, they fry perfectly well in a mere half-inch of oil, cutting down considerably on time and cleanup. And why wouldn't I love beans in a fried taco? A few of the little legumes do have a tendency to slip out when you're frying these, but if you don't sweat it, it's no big deal.
I know you can bake them, but you won't get that requisite taquito crunch. If you're going to bake them, IMHO, you might as well coat them in a sauce and call them enchiladas. But then you'd miss out on the second-best thing about taquitos: They're finger food.
BLACK BEAN TAQUITOS
8 servings (makes 24 taquitos)
MAKE AHEAD: The taquito filling can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months. The taquitos can be refrigerated for up to 5 days; reheat them in a 300-degree oven for about 15 minutes.
1 small onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (white and green parts)
1/2 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces (1/2 cup)
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (with seeds)
3-1/2 cups cooked or no-salt-added canned black beans (from two 15-ounce cans), drained and rinsed
1 cup defrosted frozen corn
1-1/2 cups grated vegan cheddar cheese (may substitute dairy cheese)
2 teaspoons ground ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
1-1/2 cups canola or other vegetable oil, plus more as needed
24 six-inch corn tortillas
Sriracha, for serving
Vegan sour cream, for serving (may substitute dairy sour cream)
Guacamole, for serving
Combine the onion, scallions, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped but not pasty. Transfer to a mixing bowl, then stir in the beans, corn, vegan cheese, ancho chile powder, cumin, and salt. Taste, and add more salt, as needed.
Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add as many of the tortillas as will fit without overlapping, and heat them gently until softened, 30 seconds or so on each side. Let the excess oil drip off as you transfer them to a plate, stacking them as you go. Repeat until all the tortillas are heated, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil at a time if the skillet gets dry.
While the tortillas cool, pour the remaining oil into the skillet, over medium heat, to a depth of 1/2 inch; add more oil as needed.
Set two rimmed baking sheets nearby, and line one with paper towels.
Begin filling and rolling the taquitos. Place about 2 tablespoons of the filling across one tortilla, then roll it up as tightly as possible and place it, seam side down, on the unlined baking sheet. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled. (If you have a little extra filling, reserve it for tacos another time.)
Once you have five or six taquitos formed and the oil in the skillet is shimmering, place them seam-side down in the oil, being careful to avoid splatters and not overcrowd the pan. Cook until the bottom is crisp and dark golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, then use tongs to carefully turn the taquitos over and cook on the other side until crisp and dark golden brown, 3 minutes. Use a splatter screen, as needed.
Some of the filling may spill out of the taquitos as they fry; use a small spoon to push it back in where you can, but don't sweat it too much. Transfer the taquitos to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet as you go, and continue until all the taquitos are fried. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out any burnt pieces of spilled filling in between batches.
Drizzle the taquitos with Sriracha and sour cream and serve hot, passing guacamole for dolloping and dipping.
Feature Image: Deb Lindsey; Food styling: Bonnie S. Benwick for the Washington Post