The Antojitos My Family Went Crazy For
Spicy, cheesy, crunchy... I bet you can't eat just one.
by Erin Henderson
In Mexico, antojitos is an umbrella term for snacks, generally sold in street markets and food carts. Antojito doesn't refer to a specific dish, like it does in North America. An antojito can be any kind of small bite – from tacos to flautas to quesadillas – that you eat standing up or maybe sitting on a park bench if you want to relax.
Here in Canada, antojitos has a very specific image and meaning. It refers to the flour tortillas that are stuffed with cream cheese, jalapeños, and cheddar, and then baked and served with salsa and sour cream.
Back in the early 90's when Tex-Mex was all the rage, I worked at a wildly busy Mexican restaurant (or, more accurately, Mexican with a decidedly Gringo influence). One of our most popular appetizers? You guessed it: antojitos.
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White washed or not, these spicy, cheesy, crunchy bites are delicious – whether starting the night or ending it. I had completely forgotten about them until last summer, when a poolside dinner party ran very late, and the next morning I desperately needed carbs and fat to bring me back to life.
The image of my university post-bar snack came rushing forward. Not only to they hit the spot, they're super quick to pull together. A godsend recipe for when the coordination and vision are slightly off.
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As always, use this recipe as a guide. Of course, you can adjust the filling to your preferences: more heat, less cilantro, swap havarti or pepper jack for cheddar.
Use your best judgment for how many will feed your crowd. I like to make two tortillas per person as a meal; one for a snack.
Makes: about 10 large tortillas
Chef level: even with a hangover you can make these
- 1 package large flour tortillas
- 250g cream cheese, softened (I find the whipped version the easiest to use)
- 125g sour cream, plus more for serving
- 1 ½ cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese, divided
- ½ cup green onion, sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large jalapeño, diced (or to taste)
- 1 Tbsp bottled hot sauce, such as Tabasco or your favourite brand
- Salsa, for serving
How to Make It:
- Mix cream cheese, shredded cheese, green onion, jalapeño, red pepper, and hot sauce in a bowl. Set aside until ready to use. (The filling can be made up to a day in advance.)
- Heat the oven to 400°F
- Spread a thick layer of cream cheese mixture over a tortilla (roughly about the same thickness as the cream cheese you would spread on a bagel) leaving about an inch at the top (it will all ooze out as you roll it up if it’s too close to the top edge.)
- Roll the tortilla tightly into a cigar.
- Slice the tortilla roll on the bias into 1½ inch thick rounds.
- Place on a casserole dish or baking tray so that the cut side is face up exposing the filling. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. (Antojitos can be made a few hours in advance and baked right before serving.)
- Bake for 10 minutes until bubbly.
- Set the broiler to 500 and broil 2 minutes to brown.
- Serve with more sour cream and salsa.
Classically, cerveza or margarita is the go-to pairing, but wines can certainly fit in here.
With the rich and fatty cream cheeses, plus the heat from the jalapeño, look for a mid-weight wine, with upfront fruit, and good acidity.
I like a fruity rosé, such as a Tavel, a dry and richly textured Pinot Gris from Alsace, or an Albariño from Spain – a dry white wine with lots of citrus fruit ad bright acidity.