Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. Independence Day in Mexico is actually celebrated on September sixteenth, and widely celebrated throughout the country. Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates the Mexican victory over the French Army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. While it’s celebrated heavily in the Puebla area, it isn’t nearly such a big celebration in other parts of Mexico. For whatever reason, Cinco de Mayo is more heavily celebrated in America than it is in much of Mexico. One popular theory (and there are historians who make a living researching this phenomenon) is that it used to be a bigger deal throughout Mexico and the holiday was celebrated by those living in Texas and California which were Mexican territories before they belonged to the U.S. While Mexico largely abandoned celebrating the day, Texans and Californians held onto the tradition long after the territories became states, and the celebration spread throughout the U.S. I bet no one came here looking for a history lesson, but I’m kind of an overachiever that way 🙂 .
I have jumped on the Cinco de Mayo celebration bandwagon plenty of times in previous years, because any excuse to have great Mexican food and a great margarita is a fine reason where I’m concerned. While I’m no stranger to standing shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers in the bar area of a popular local Mexican restaurant and waiting hours for a table, this year I’d rather celebrate with something a little more low-key. Most of my favorites from the Mexican restaurant menu are easy to make at home, like these chicken taquitos. Unlike the ones at the restaurant, these are baked instead of fried. Don’t let that stop you, they are every bit as good as any fried taquitos I’ve ever tasted. With very few ingredients you have a tasty filling. With a little time rolling that filling into corn tortillas, you have delicious (and better for you) chicken taquitos. I left the filling at just chicken and cheese for these, and they were great. I served black beans on the side, but stirring them in would be pretty great as well. Topping them with sour cream and cilantro turned them into a meal perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. These are so tasty that we had them on Monday and I just might make them again on Sunday.
Baked Chicken Taquitos
- 3 C. shredded cooked chicken
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 1/2 C. shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese blend, divided
- 12 corn tortillas
- cooking spray (or olive oil sprayer)
- guacamole, sour cream, salsa (optional, for serving)
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray (or use an oil sprayer).
In a large mixing bowl combine the shredded chicken, cumin, salt, and garlic powder.
Stir in 1 C. of the cheese and mix well to combine thoroughly.
Place 2 tortillas at a time between two damp paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds to soften the tortillas.
Place about 1/4 C. of the chicken mixture in the center of one tortilla and roll the tortilla up tightly.
Place seam-side-down into the prepared baking dish and repeat until all 12 tortillas are filled.
Spray the taquitos lightly with cooking spray (or use an oil sprayer).
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 C. cheese over the taquitos.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until taquitos are crisp and the cheese is melted.
Serve with salsa, guacamole, sour cream or additional toppings as desired.
Makes 12 taquitos.