After our recent experience with the amazing food from the Boca Loca Burrito Factory food truck (Brett brought home burritos after he was at a beer tasting at 101 Bottles of Beer on the Wall), we've been in the mood for chimichangas. I think it was that same week that I tried frying up chimichangas using pork tenderloin that I pressure cooked with juniper berries, beer, peppercorns, chipotles from last year's garden, onions, etc. They turned out great!
I've been thinking about how good that was, and how we should do it again sometime, but knew we were out of pork tenderloins and were sort of having a "frozen raw meat" crisis. I didn't have anything to start from scratch with. But wait! I found a container of crockpot carnitas (pork, pinto beans, salsa) in the freezer. Unfortunately, this stuff loses some of it's oomph/flavor when frozen, but I figured I'd try working with it. We also had some leftover canned corn that we'd had with chicken paprikash (also from the freezer) the night before.
Hm... I think I can work with this.
Cracked open a can of black beans, and stirred some of that together with the remaining corn. Found half a raw garden jalapeno in the freezer, so I chopped it up and tossed it, some snipped fresh cilantro, and some squirts from a lime together.
More cilantro, lime and a little veggie oil got stirred together with leftover Chinese carry-out rice from last Friday.
Grated the end of a block of sharp cheddar.
Found the last of a jar of salsa I canned last summer...we'd opened it up last week to have with chips.
I'd recently picked up Velveeta, wanting to make a thin queso to drizzle on finished chimichangas like they do at Boca Loca, so some of that got melted together with some of the salsa.
Since the thawed out carnitas were a bit watery and, as expected, lacking in flavor, I dry-fried them in a non-stick skillet, cooking over medium low heat until the juices evaporate and there was a little browning. Just for fun I sprinkled on a little chili powder and smoked Hungarian paprika. And then, when it was getting a touch TOO dry, I poured in a little Arrogant Bastard beer Brett was drinking.
And thanks to a Youtube video I recently saw on making chimichangas, I stirred together a little flour and water into a paste for glue.
Let's get started...
After heating the tortillas over the gas flame until they were warm and soft (this makes them more pliable and less likely to tear during the manhandling), I layered in the goodies...
I DON'T recommend filling it so it looks pretty in a picture, like the one below. The stuff is spread too far apart across the tortilla. You can do it this way, but just make sure to squish it all towards your end of the tortilla before rolling up - try to get it all in the "bottom half" of the circle, leaving a bit of space between the fillings and the edge. And I forgot to pour on some of the salsa before taking this picture.
Once the toppings were on, I smeared the four/water paste around all the edges, folded the bottom part over on itself to about halfway up the tortilla, then put a little more paste on the "new" outer edges for the bottom half (the parts that were under the tortilla in the above picture), then folded the sides over so they stuck to the main body of the tortilla, then folded down the top and gave it a snug rolling together. The paste is AMAZING. When I was younger I tried doing this and then you had to pick out like six toothpicks used to hold it all together!
Since I had a cast iron skillet still hot from warming the tortillas, I put the formed burritos (unfried chimichangas) on it and turned them over once or twice. I did this while the oil was heating to help set the shape so they'd hopefully be less likely to fall apart on me. Does it work? Well, they didn't fall apart, but I also didn't try any without LIGHTLY browning them on the cast iron to compare against. I'm not talking brown or really even tan....just so they get a hair drier on the outside.
And then it's into the oil they go! I was very careful in heating the oil slowly, testing with torn pieces of tortilla dropped in to make sure they started to slowly brown rather than insta-burn (like the last time we tried this!).
These are good sized chimichangas, as you can see compared to some tortilla chips. I made a third to use up the fillings, and also because last time we each ate one and a half. This time I used bigger tortillas, so they were more filling (and easier to roll!), and we only ate one apiece. Let's hope a leftover one is good reheated for lunch the next day!