Chimichangas

 Chimichangas

Chimichanga

To this day there’s still debate as to who should be credited with the invention of this dish, but two different origin stories prevail: The first claim goes back to 1922 where the founder of El Charro restaurant in Tucson accidentally dropped a burrito into the fryers, almost muttering a Spanish curse word but changing it quickly to “chimichanga”. And the second story comes from a Woody Johnson, founder of Macaya’s Mexican Kitchen. He claims that in 1946 he put burritos into his deep fat fryers just to experiment with this dish, and later becoming the most popular item on his menu. It seems as though this debate will persist until the end of time, but they’re definitely sure that the chimichanga was conceived in Arizona, and you’d be hard-pressed not to find it at any self-respecting Tex-Mex joint in the state.

  • 1 Lb Ground Beef (80/20)
  • 1 Can Refried Beans
  • 1 T Olive Oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 Jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 T Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Salt (or more to taste)
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 C Shredded Colby Jack Cheese
  • 4+ Large Flour Tortillas (Burrito size)
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

Bring a large skillet to medium heat and begin browning the ground beef. As the meat begins to brown make sure that you constantly stir the meat to ensure that all the meat is cooking evenly. Bring a small saucepan with olive oil (or coconut oil) to medium-low heat and add the refried beans. Cover and stir occasionally. When the meat is just browned, add the jalapenos, onions, and the spices, and stir well to combine. Continue cooking until the onions and peppers are softened (about 7-8 minutes). Fill a deep-sided frying pan with at least 3” of vegetable oil and bring to medium-high heat (I used a medium sauce pan and fried one chimi at a time). Lay a flour tortilla out on a flat surface, add up to a cup of meat mixture, ½ cup of refried beans and ½ cup of shredded cheese. Be sure to keep the filling in a line to one side. Roll the tortilla one turn, fold in the sides to make a good seal, and finish rolling the tortilla through. The trickiest part of this dish is to keep the chimis closed while they’re frying. Some recipes call for using toothpicks and to stitch along the flap. But I had two 6” metal tongs that I used to clamp the flaps shut. Place chimichanga into hot oil and fry for 5-6 minutes, they will be deep golden brown when ready, but remember that the inside needs more time than the outside to cook through. Serve with your favorite Tex-Mex accompaniments.