For real: I cook a lot of food that is quasi-Mexican, but I feel as if I’m insulting a whole nation by calling my recipes “Mexican.” So.. I guess Tex-Mex? Although I don’t like the sound of that either. Why is life so hard?
I have today off from work today, and my immediate plans were: go through my books and figure out what I want to bring with me on the move to the new Casa Shenanigans and go to El Pelon for some delicious fish tacos. Sadly, El Pelon is still not yet open and we had to go to another local place that wasn’t as good. So I figured I’d post about some other delicious taco-esque food I made last week.
Okay, maybe it’s a bit ignorant to say that a chimichanga [really, spell check? chimpanzee?] is taco-esque. But… it kind of is. Meat, cheese, beans, chilies, tortillas…. yup. Sounds like a taco. The big difference here is that it’s all wrapped up in a little rectangular package and then cooked. It’s typically fried, but we all know I can’t fry something that large and dense without hurting myself, so I baked mine.
The possibilities of what you can put in chimichangas is basically endless. You can opt for a vegetarian version with zucchini, cheese and beans and that would be amazing. All you’d really need to do is swap out diced zucchini [or mushrooms or any other firm vegetable] for the ground beef I used in the recipe below. I think the spices and the cooking method would work well with quite a few different options. You can also add in any vegetables of your choice; I had meant to add in roasted corn but of course forgot to do so. It’s amazing I supervise a whole department at work, no?
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 can of diced green chilies with sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon of chili powder, or more to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 or 1 cup fat free refried beans
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 – 8 large tortillas, 10-inch diameter
Preheat oven to 400F. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add in the diced onions and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and cook just until fragrant. The ground beef can then be added to the pan and browned. Once the meat is cooked through, add in the chilies, tomatoes, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon. Stir to combine, and let that cook over low heat for several minutes for the flavors to mingle. [Oh god, now I'm the type of person that says things that douchey Food Network chefs say. I'm sorry.]
Remove the pan from the heat. Take a tortilla and spread two tablespoons of refried beans down the center. Top with the meat mixture (roughly 1/3 cup) and then shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla envelope style and place in a baking pan seam side down. Very lightly coat with oil. Continue with the rest of the tortillas; depending on what else you add in here, this can serve up to 8. Cook for about 20 minutes in the oven, until the tortilla is golden brown and everything is heated through. Serve garnished with fresh salsa, sour cream, guacamole or any other toppings of your choice.
What can I say? These are so simple and so good. The cumin and cinnamon add a warm, earthy-spicy note to the meat, and the tomatoes and diced chilies give it just enough sauciness. These are perfect for a quick week night dinner, or would be great served at a party if using smaller tortillas.