There's an ongoing dispute about the origin of chimichangas that is not likely to be decided any time soon. Are they Mexican or American? Wikipedia (which covers the dispute thoroughly) says the most likely scenario is that the chimichanga, or chivichanga, has long been a part of local cuisine of the Pimería Alta of Arizona and Sonora, with its early range extending southward into Sinaloa. But Tucson, AZ likes to take credit for their invention, too, and they're darned serious about their chimichangas (they like 'em big and fat in Tucson).
My favorite story (and the most colorful one) is this: Monica Flin, the founder of the Tucson, Arizona, restaurant El Charro, accidentally dropped a pastry into the deep fat fryer in 1922. She began to utter a Spanish expletive "chi..." (chingada), but quickly stopped herself and instead exclaimed chimichanga, the Spanish equivalent of "thingamajig".
However they came to be, the chimichanga has spread out from the Tucson area big time (the picture is from a restaurant in Illinois!), and aren't we glad about that!
You can put just about anything you want in one of these deep-fat-fried burritos and it'll taste good. Note that when you're looking for recipes you'll discover that cheddar is the cheese most often used, and that's totally not Mexican. I love Mexican cheeses, so I'm most likely to use a nice queso chihuahua instead. Use whatever you like.
Anyhow, here's my recipe for chorizo-filled chimichangas (Mexican chorizo, not Spanish!). I hope you'll like it!
CHIMICHANGAS DE CHORIZO
- 6(12-14inch) flour tortillas
- 1 lb Mexican Chorizo
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 Cup red chili sauce or enchilada sauce
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 Cups shredded queso chihuahua, divided (or other cheese, your choice)
- 2 Cups shredded lettuce or cabbage
- 2 Cups finely sliced green onions (including some of the green tops)
Warm tortillas by wrapping them in aluminum foil and heating them in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or wrap them lightly in paper towels and microwave on high for 6 or 7 seconds per tortilla. Keep warm while you prepare other ingredients.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, brown chorizo until crumbly; drain out the fat, but leave the chorizo in the pan.
Add the diced yellow onion, chile or enchilada sauce, salt and pepper. Saute 2 to 3 minutes until onions are transparent. Remove from heat.
In the center of each warm tortilla, spoon 1/6 of meat filling. Sprinkle half of the cheese (1 cup total) over the top of the filling (reserve remaining cheese). Fold tortilla over the filling, tucking in the ends to make a secure fat tube or rectangle, and fasten with wooden toothpicks.
In a large pot or deep fryer over medium heat, add at least 4 inches of vegetable oil. Heat oil to 375 to 400 degrees F. Fry the chimichangas, 1 or 2 at a time, 3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels and place on serving plates.
Top with remaining cheese, lettuce or cabbage, green onions, and any optional ingredients that you prefer (chopped tomatoes, olives, jalapenos, crema Mexicana, etc.), and serve immediately while they are still hot.
I like to serve these with a side of guacamole, a good salsa Mexicana and some rice. Be prepared to feel sleepy when you've finished them... ;-)
If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email firstname.lastname@example.org (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)