We’re both going to write this post because we grew up making chimichangas together. Years and years ago, when we were growing up in Phoenix, we all got hooked on chimichangas. The budget didn’t permit our family of six to eat out all that often, so we set out with Mom on the adventure of creating our OWN chimichangas.
Generally, we all had to pitch in and help with the preparation of chimis, but Mom always cooked the meat. Most any inexpensive meat will do because you drench it in salsa and slow-cook the meat for hours and then pull it to pieces.
Cooking the meat: You can use chicken, or pork, or beef. Throw it all in your crock pot, along with a lot of salsa (we generally use Pace, because that’s the flavor we grew up with. But you can also use canned salsa verde, or some other brand of red salsa, or even your own. But you need at least 3-4 cups of it for a 3-lb. roast, to give you an approximate ratio.) Let the meat cook until it is falling apart. Using forks, shred the meat so there are no chunks left. If you inexplicably don’t own a crockpot, you can also slow cook the meat in a very low oven. Just make sure that the cover on the pan with the meat fits nice and snug so it doesn’t dry out.
Wrapping the meat: Use the large flour tortillas. Lay a tort on the counter; spoon meat onto it (let the liquid drain off before putting it onto tort–a slotted spoon works well for this). The meat should be in a rectangular shape about 4″ x 1″. Turn the ends of the tortilla down, then fold sides over and wrap. Use 2 toothpicks to anchor shut. (Note: if you always use two toothpicks in each chimi, you can advise your guests to be sure to FIND those two toothpicks before they start wolfing down the chimi.)
Frying the chimis: Heat corn or canola oil in a deep frying pan or heavy pot (or in a deep fryer, if you have one–I don’t.) The oil is hot enough when you throw in a small piece of tortilla and it sizzles and turns brown fairly quickly. Using tongs, carefully lower chimichangas into hot oil, one at a time until there are 2 or 3 in the pan. Allow to cook for a minute or two on each side, until tortilla is golden-brown and crisp. Remove with tongs, and let cool and drain on paper towels. It’s important to have a well-ventilated area to cook these chimis in. I (BK) often fry things outside on the little side burner on my grill. This cuts down on the greasy smell that can linger for days if the oil gets too hot at any point during the cooking process.
To serve: Remove the toothpicks and place chimis on a platter. (Or, if you don’t remove the toothpicks, remind your guests to locate two before chowing down.) Serve with sour cream, guacamole, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, and salsa. Optional: pair chimis with Mexican rice or homemade refried beans on the side.
We actually feel there is also a proper way to BUILD your chimichanga. First, place the chimichanga on a bed of lettuce on your plate. Smear on generous amounts of guacamole and sour cream next. Sprinkle tomatoes, cilantro, and cheese over the entire ensemble. Pour whatever additional salsa you want on top of that. This creates a platter of yummy food that looks better than anything you can buy at a restaurant.
The best antacid to aid in recovery from your chimi…. (Actually, believe it or not, when we were kids, we often finished off that chimichanga meal with a bowl of ice cream because ice cream will “cut the grease.” Do not ask us where that little delusion came from, but it sure works for us!)