Local Flavor knows the best way to learn about another culture is by sampling its food.
National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place in the United States from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 and celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens who have ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Many of these countries also celebrate the anniversary of their independence during this time.
To honor this time, St. John Neumann Parish will present its Spanish Food Drive-By Fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 11a.m. to 3p.m. in the parking lot of Nativity of Our Lord Church, 633 Orchard St., Scranton. The event will feature homemade Spanish cuisine including Empanadas; Elote, aka Mexican Corn-on-the-Cob; and Chicken Flautas.
Here at Local Flavor, we love anything deep-fried and covered in sour cream, so parishioner Ismaelina Luna’s recipe for Chicken Flautas earned the parish a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore.
Flautas, aka Tacos Dorados in some places, consist of tortillas filled with meat then rolled up, fried until crispy and topped with condiments. Luna’s recipe is a traditional take on the dish that’s perfect for a grab-and-go event like the drive-by fundraiser, her daughter, Ana Becerril, said.
“This might be one of the most popular items,” Becerril said. “We sell a lot of these, and we almost always sell out. People really enjoy them. They love them.”
At the fundraiser, customers can get two Empanadas for $5, two Elote for $5, and three Chicken Flautas (or Tacos Dorados) for $5. Tickets must be purchased by Wednesday, Sept. 23, and can be reserved at the parish office, 633 Orchard St., or by calling 570-344-6159.
It’s no wonder Luna’s recipes are a big deal at the church, as Luna also creates authentic Spanish meals for small parties and get-togethers in the city. She and Becerril keep busy with the church’s events, too. The Spanish community at St. John Neumann Parish has incorporated its heritage and customs into the region for almost 40 years.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadeloupe in December brings hundreds of people from throughout the Diocese of Scranton to the church, while its Spanish Food Booth at the parish’s annual Summer Festival, which serves dishes such as Flan and Enchiladas, always is a huge hit. The loss of the latter thanks to the coronavirus pandemic has been tough, though the drive-by event seeks to raise money for the church as well as treat the community to the parishioners’ delicious and beloved traditional Spanish recipes.
After all, nothing unites people quite like a good meal.
“It’s always so great to see the support (this area) shows to the Spanish community and to our church,” Becerril said. “We’re always so happy to share our food with them.”
If you go
What: Spanish Food Drive-By Fundraiser
When: Saturday, Sept. 26, 11a.m. to 3p.m.
Where: Parking lot of Nativity of Our Lord Church, 633 Orchard St., Scranton
Details: Tickets must be purchased by Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the parish office, 633 Orchard St., or by calling 570-344-6159.
Ismaelina Luna’s Chicken Flautas
2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
Generous pinch of salt
1 clove fresh garlic
1 heaping tablespoon Knorr Granulated Chicken Flavor Bouillon
Place chicken breasts in the bottom of a large pot, then add onion, salt, garlic and bouillon. Cover chicken in 1 inch of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked, or about 20 minutes. Drain and shred chicken. Set aside.
For the sauce:
1/2 pound green tomatillo
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 to 1 bunch cilantro
1 tablespoon sea salt
Boil tomatillos with jalapenos until soft. Remove from heat. Transfer mixture to blender and then add garlic, cilantro and sea salt. Blend until smooth.
20 regular-sized corn tortillas
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 can (16 ounces) refried beans, for serving
Shredded lettuce (for topping)
Queso fresco (for topping)
Avocado, sliced (for topping)
Warm tortillas in microwave for 45 seconds.
Add one tablespoon of shredded chicken onto a tortilla, roll into cylinder shape and secure with toothpick. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Add about 2 inches of oil to a pot, or enough for frying, and heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 375 F. Using tongs, place flautas in the oil and fry until golden-brown (about 1 to 2 minutes on each side), flipping halfway through. Transfer flautas to a plate to cool.
Place flautas over a layer of refried beans. Top flautas with shredded lettuce, queso fresco and sliced avocado. Drizzle sauce over flautas and toppings or serve on the side.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT