Chicken Chimichangas And A Tortilla Party
Because I still had so many packages of tortillas to get through from the generous supply Tortilla Land sent me, I thought it would be fun to invite some friends over to help me eat them. I posed a challenge to all those invited to bring something we could eat in or with the tortillas (or, you know, drink alongside the tortillas), and everyone came through.
My contribution was chimichangas. (Don't you just love the sound of that word? It's so fun to say. Go ahead, try it. See what I mean?)
I had never made chimichangas at home before, but they sounded like the perfect tortilla party dish, and an easy recipe for them in Cook's Country was all the motivation I needed to give them a shot.
On Saturday afternoon, before my guests arrived, I prepared the filling for the chimichangas, and then I just left it on the counter covered and waited to wrap the filling inside the tortillas and fry up the chimichangas until later, when everyone could enjoy them hot.
To get the party started, I layered some Tostitos on a sheet pan, topped them with a generous amount of cheese, and baked them until the cheese got bubbly and melty. This ended up being a great idea because when my guests arrived, we had plenty of accompaniments to enjoy with the cheesy nachos.
Meghan brought a grilled corn, tomato, and jicama salad. I couldn't get enough of it. It was crisp, tart, and ideal for summer.
Michelle brought a roasted vegetable salsa. She kept it on the mild side because she knows I can't handle the heat, but I still thought it had a decent kick and really enjoyed it.
And Bianca whipped up some guacamole. One of the main reasons I make Mexican food is for an excuse to eat gobs and gobs of guacamole. Bianca's guacamole was incredibly fresh and well flavored.
Soon, Christine arrived with all the ingredients for some fabulous spicy and un-spicy guava margaritas. It was officially a party!
Elizabeth brought a green salad, and together we fried up strips of the tortillas to top the salad. I noticed a lot of people were just digging right into the strips or dipping those in salsa. I guess you could say we like our fried food.
Alicia trekked up from Connecticut for the occasion and contributed an assortment of veggies that I sliced, sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and handed off to Elizabeth to use in some veggie quesadillas.
Finally, it was time for me to assemble and fry the chicken chimichangas. I was blown away by how good they were. (I even admit to eating a few leftover, cold bites of them after everyone went home!)
Emily, who had planned to be out of town, was able to come at the last minute and brought some delicious fudge from her morning trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We all loved the dark and stormy fudge with its heavy ginger notes. Oh, and she also brought her dog, Sadie. Gunner was very happy to have a playmate for the evening.
And if you know me, you know I can't really throw a party without making dessert, so I whipped up a margarita cake on Saturday afternoon as well. You'll have to come back for that recipe.
Chicken Chimichangas (adapted from Cook's Country, July 2011)
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1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
Salt and pepper
2 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 16 ounces of chicken)
1 tablespoon plus 3 cups vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon water
8 Tortilla Land flour tortillas (sold at Costco)
Whisk broth and chipotles together in 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
Combine 1/2 cup chipotle broth, rice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and microwave until liquid is completely absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic, chili powder, and cumin, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add remaining chipotle broth, parcooked rice, and beans, and bring mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Nestle chicken in the rice and bean mixture, cover, and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn chicken halfway through.
Transfer chicken to cutting board, and let rest 10 minutes. Dice chicken, and stir chicken, cheddar, and cilantro into the rice and bean mixture.
When ready to fry chimichangas, in a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 3 cups oil to 325 degrees.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour and water.
Working with one tortilla at a time, place a generous spoonful of the chicken mixture in the center of the tortilla. Using a pastry brush, brush the flour mixture around the outside edge of the tortilla. Wrap the top and bottom of the tortilla over the filling. Then brush the ends with a little more paste and fold them up and press to seal.
Fry two chimichangas at a time by placing them in the oil seam side down. Fry until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. (If you use regular flour tortillas, this may only take 2 minutes per side.)
Drain chimichangas on wire rack set inside sheet pan.
Repeat with remaining chimichangas, making sure to maintain oil temperature at 325 degrees.
If you fear frying, the chicken, rice, and bean mixture would also make a great burrito or quesadilla filling.
What's the last thing you made with tortillas? (I have 120 more to get through!)