Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spicy Beef Chimichangas

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Here's a zesty recipe for spicy Beef Chimichangas, one of my favorite Mexican recipes. I've included some suggested ingredient substitutions in parentheses, to make these chimichangas a little healthier. And if you like fiery-hot foods, just use the alternative ingredients noted at the end with an asterisk (*). This recipe serves 4, with 2 chimichangas per serving.

1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey, chicken or venison)
2 Tbs minced garlic*
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 heaping Tbs all-purpose flour (or whole wheat flour)
1 8oz can chopped tomatoes, undrained*
1 cup tomato sauce
1 8 3/4 oz can corn kernels, drained*
2 Tbs chili powder*
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or reduced-fat Monterey Jack)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or reduced-fat cheddar)
Vegetable or canola oil for frying
8 10-inch flour tortillas (or whole wheat tortillas)

Wooden toothpicks to secure the chimichangas for frying

2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce and 1/2 cup shredded carrot, combined in a small bowl; OR 2 to 2 1/2 cups bagged shredded salad mix containing lettuce & carrots

Green chili salsa, OR Pepper Dog Salsa Verde
Sour cream (or reduced-fat or fat-free sour cream)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (you'll use it to keep the tortillas warm). In a large skillet, cook the ground beef, garlic and onions until the meat is browned and the onion is tender. Drain off the fat and then stir in the flour. Add the corn, undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce and chili powder. Stir and cook until the mixture thickens and is bubbly, then keep cooking and stirring for another minute to allow the flour to cook.

While the meat mixture is cooking, stack the tortillas and wrap tightly in aluminum foil, and place in the 350 degree oven to soften. Once the meat mixture is cooked, remove a few of the tortillas from the oven, leaving the rest in the oven to stay warm and soft. Spoon a few tablespoons (about 4 or 5, or use a 1/3 cup measuring cup) of the meat mixture down the center of each tortilla. Then spoon about 1 Tbs of each type of cheese on top of the meat mixture on each tortilla. Then fold the chimichangas: Fold in 2 opposite sides of the tortilla in envelope fashion, then carefully roll up the tortilla starting at one of the short sides. The end result should look like a square-ish filled envelope. Secure the rolled tortilla with one or two toothpicks. Repeat for all of the tortillas (you can reserve any leftover cooked mixture in the fridge for future use). Once all the tortillas are out of the oven, reduce temperature to 300 degrees (you'll use it to keep cooked chimichangas warm as you finish frying all of them).

Heat about 1 inch of oil to 375 degrees in a wok or heavy deep skillet. While the oil is heating, prepare a draining surface: I use a cookie sheet lined with several paper towels, or you can use a couple of large plates with paper towels. Once the oil reaches 375 degrees, fry the filled and rolled tortillas, 2 or 3 at a time, until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute per side. Place the fried chimichangas on your draining surface (cookie sheet or plate), and keep in the oven so that they stay warm while they drain and you finish frying the remaining rolled tortillas.

To serve the chimichangas, arrange some of the lettuce and carrot mixture on a dinner plate, then place 2 chimichangas on top. Spoon some green chili sauce or Salsa Verde on top of each chimichanga, and top with a dollop of sour cream.

*For fiery-hot chimichangas:
-Use 1 minced clove of Twenty Pepper Garlic instead of plain minced garlic
-Use 1 8oz can of chopped tomatoes with chilies, undrained
-Use 1 8 3/4 can of "fiesta corn" (corn kernels with diced chilies)
-Use a combination of Habanero Seasoning From Hell and chili powder to total 2 Tbs -- but BE CAREFUL and "start small" (maybe 1 tsp) with the Habanero Seasoning, because it is seriously fiery-hot!

Zestfully yours,

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