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Beef flautas, how to make the best

When I lived in Iowa City, a fellow homesick Texan was tired of the lack of good food, so he opened a Mexican restaurant called La Perlita. The name means little pearl in Spanish and this small restaurant was indeed a gem. The salsas were fiery and bright, the refried beans had depth and flavor, and the tortillas were patted out by hand. But I have to say my favorite dish on menu were the freshly fried flautas.

Not familiar with flautas? Perhaps you know them by another term: some refer to them as taquitos and in parts of Mexico they’re often called tacos dorados. But the basic premise is the same—it’s a rolled taco that’s been fried.

Beef flautas | Homesick Texan

Flauta (which means flute in Spanish) is what I grew up calling them, so I was a bit flummoxed by the variation in names. When I asked my non-Texan friends, they insisted that it was a flauta if it was made with flour tortillas, a taquito if it was made with corn. I have to disagree as I’d never even had flour tortilla flautas (though I don’t doubt their existence). And the Mexican street-food vendors here all sell tacos dorados, but they look just like flautas to me.

No matter what you call them, however, the key to a good flauta is that it needs to be fresh. Often you’ll find pre-fried ones, where a dull tortilla surrounds a cold, lifeless filling. Would you eat a cold nacho? Would you eat a cold enchilada? Of course not! So I don’t understand why people insist on serving old food—you can’t doll it up no matter how much lettuce, cheese or salsa you pile on top of it.

But a fresh flauta? Now that’s a thing of wonder! The tortilla snaps, the filling is alive and no adornment is necessary—though a drizzle of hot sauce is certainly welcome.

Beef flautas | Homesick Texan

Making these is not difficult—as long as you’re brave when confronted with a skillet that is hissing and popping with hot fat. (I wear long sleeves and oven mitts to keep myself safe.) But because of your fearlessness you will be rewarded with the best flautas you’ve ever had. Actually, that’s not exactly true—I still think that the best flautas were those served to me at La Perlita, by a fellow Texan who knew how to make those needing a respite from the cold feel welcome and warm.

I’m curious—what do you call these? And am I wrong—is there indeed a difference between flauta, taquitom and tacos dorados? Please let us know!

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Print
5 from 3 votes

Beef flautas

Cook Time 3 hours
Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 4-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease or canola oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and quartered
  • 2-4 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salsa, cilantro, diced onions, and sour cream for garnishing

Instructions

  • Brown the cubed beef in the fat on medium heat in a large Dutch oven or pot (may have to do in batches). Add the onions, garlic, tomatillos, jalapenos, cumin, 1/2 cup of the chopped cilantro, 4 cups of water, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer uncovered for 2 hours until meat is tender. Remove beef from the pot, shred it and then toss it with the 2 tablespoons pan juices, the lime juice, then taste and adjust seasonings.   
  • Wrap the tortillas in foil, and heat in a 350° F oven for 10 minutes or until soft. Take each warmed tortilla and place 2 tablespoons of the shredded beef into it and roll tightly.
  • Heat 1 1/2 inches of canola oil in a large iron skillet and when oil is 350° F (or hot but not smoking), gently place 3 flautas into oil, seam side down, and cook on each side until crisp, 45 seconds per side. (If you don't have a thermometer, you can stick a wooden spoon into the oil and if it bubbles around it, the oil should be hot enough.) 
  • Serve immediately with salsa, chopped cilantro, onion and sour cream.

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118 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    South Texas Native…it's indeed a flauta and I agree…never heard of a flour flauta

  2. Julie in CA says:

    I was raised in Southern California, and Flauta=flour tortilla, and made with corn tortillas, they were either rolled tacos or taquitos.

    So…I'm wondering…if you're a person who calls the ones made with corn tortillas a Flauta, what do you call the ones made with flour tortillas? Is there no designation or distinction?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi!!! Just want to post something about flautas, I am from Monterrey, Nuevoo Leon, Mexico and we call them Flautas. Usually they are made of shredded beef, put on top of them some Mexican cream and salsa de aguacate (made of tomatillos, chile jalapeño o Serrano, cilantro, salt and of course avocado) with sheared lettuce and tomatoes. I love flautas, they are delicious, but I also like tacos which are totally different than flautas, and then we also make tacos dorados which are made of ground beef( fried corn tortilla filled with uncooked ground beef, do not rolled them just fried them like a taco) and you eat them with whatever you like them, I like to eat them them with salsa, Mexican cream, lettuce, tomatoes, onions. But like I said it before this is in Monterrey, Mexico. I have a friend who is from Michoacan, Mexico and they call flautas as a taquitos. Thanks any way for sharing your recepie, as long everybody like Mexican Food I am happy. Have you try some Chiles poblanos filled of picadillo and cheese, they are yummy.

  4. My husband and I were introduced to flautas while teaching English as a Second Language to Mexican immigrants in Wisconsin. They were called flautas and made with corn tortillas and rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. We loved them!

  5. Grew up in El Paso, TX and we called them either Taquitos or Flautas, and both were always made with corn tortillas. Only time I ever had something rolled and deep fried in a 'flour tortilla', it was called a Fried Burrito.. except in Arizona where they call them Chimichangas.