Tonight's dinner was another dish from one of our favorite cuisines...Mexican! We eat a lot of Mexican foods whether it be at home or out at a restaurant. We recently tried a different Mexican restaurant here in town. I decided to stray from my usual taco salad and try some chimichangas. They were excellent! They were not the usual ground beef or chicken filled chimichinga, rather they were beef tip filled (tiny steak bites).
Before we left, I talked to the waiter at the restaurant and asked how they get their chimichangas to stay together when they fry them. When I tried to make them in the past, the most difficult part was getting the tortilla to stay shut. He said that they actually have a basket that goes around the tortilla that holds it together. Great! Back to square one because I do not have that wonderful basket!
Anyway, we tried making chimichangas again tonight. We ended up with our own little Mexican restaurant. JJ had his typical cheese enchiladas, rice, and beans while Jason, Savannah, and I had chimichangas, yellow rice, beans and salad topping consisting of lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and homemade guacamole. Mmmm!
Here is how we did it:
Chicken, Beef tips, or ground beef seasoned Mexican style
Tortillas (homemade or large store bought)
Mexican blend cheese
Oil for frying
White melted cheese
While the oil is heating, stuff your tortillas with a couple of spoons full of meat mixture and about 1 Tbsp. of cheese. Tightly roll the tortilla tucking in the ends (early in the rolling process) so that the stuffing does not fall out during the frying. Take a toothpick and use it to close the side. After all the tortillas are stuffed, then comes the difficult part.
Since I do not have the fry basket, I used 2 tongs to hold the tortilla shut. It is necessary to hold the tortilla shut for a while even though you closed it with a toothpick because it will expand and open up in the frying process. The toothpick only holds the middle so make sure your tongs are toward the ends.
Allow the chimichanga to fry until it is a light golden brown turning it throughout the frying process. Remove it from the oil and allow it to drian on a paper towel.
Chicken Chimichanga Filling
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into small pieces
½ packet of Sazon Seasoning from Goya
Green pepper, finely chopped
Yellow Pepper, finely chopped
Onion, finely chopped
½ tsp. olive oil
Sauté the peppers and onions in olive oil for 2-3 minutes in a cast iron skillet. Sprinkle the mixture with chili powder, garlic salt, and cumin (just enough to add flavor). Add the chicken pieces and about 2 tablespoons of water (to keep the chicken moist). Sprinkle the sazon over the top of the meat, pepper, and onion mixture. Allow it to fry for about 4-5 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Do not overcook the meat or it will be dry. Allow it to cool for a few minutes and then stuff the tortilla shells.
JJ requested that I make yellow rice instead of our traditional mexican (red) rice. He wanted his meal JUST LIKE the one at the restaurant, and this particular restaurant happens to serve yellow rice! I did a quick search online and found this recipe at ehow.com. Here is the link to the exact recipe.
Mexican Yellow Rice
1 c. rice
2 c. water
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. Sazon seasoning by Goya
1/2 tsp. turmeric (I used ginger.)
1/2 tsp. salt
Add the oil to a sauce pan that is set on medium heat. Add the garlic, sazon, and tumeric (or ginger in my case) to the oil as it is heating. Brown the garlic slightly and then reduce the heat. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Once the water is at a full boil, add the rice to pot, stir, and return it to a boil. When the rice and water has returned to a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow it to finish cooking. It is important to keep an eye on the rice and stir it occasionally. If the water boils out and your rice is not completely cooked, add a little bit of water (about 1/4 cup at a time) to keep it from sticking and to give it more time to cook. The recipe says to allow it to cook for 25 minutes, but I typically only let long grain rice cook for 18-20 minutes. I just check it and see if it is cooked all the way through and soft.
As mentioned above, I used ginger instead of turmeric. I had Savannah do a bit of research to find out exactly what turmeric was, and she found it to be an Asian plant that is in the ginger family. That was good enough for me! I replace the required turmeric with just a dash of ginger (I didn't want to over do it!). It worked. The rice was great!
With everything done, it was time to put the plates together...chimichanga smothered with melted white cheese, refried beans with a bit of shredded cheese sprinkled on top, yellow rice, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and guacamole. Here are a few tips:
- Do not over fry the chimichanga. They will be extra crunchy if you do. (speaking from experience)
- When you are draining the chimichanga, turn it on it's end to allow some of the extra oil that made its way inside to drain out.
- You can also add a bit of fire to the meat stuffing by putting in some hot chilies or sprinkling it with red pepper.
- If you do not have time to make refried beans from scratch, you can use a can of pinto beans. Heat 1 tsp. of bacon grease in an iron skillet. Pour in the whole can of pinto beans (juice and all) and use a potato masher to mash up the beans while they are "re-frying." Lightly sprinkle the beans with chili powder. Add water to the mix if they are getting too dry and sticking to the skillet. Savannah actually made the beans tonight. Using the canned pintos turned out much better than the "pre-smashed" variety of canned refried beans.