Even the name is appealing. Chimi chimi chimi-changas. I’ve always been a fan and remember getting SO excited when my mom declared it chimichanga night growing up. I’ve never made my own and, thus, declared it chimichanga night in my apartment the other night. A full-blown fiesta! Chris immediately told me that chimichangas remind him of Barbara Streisand. Huh?? Then I realized it was because of Meet the Fockers and how Dustin Hoffman’s character always wanted chimichangas. It’s kind of like how quesadillas now remind me of the grandma in Napoleon Dynamite. “Make yourself a dang quesadilla!” Obviously, I pronounce the L’s when I say quesadilla now. What is it with Mexican food and movies, anyway?
I opted to bake my chimichangas because a) whenever I deep dry or even “shallow” fry, my kitchen, my face, my clothing gets covered in oil. I’m just not good at it and it’s a safety hazard. And b) I figured I’d try to make the meal a bit healthier. When you can make Mexican food healthier AND just as tasty as it’s original, you consider that a very good evening. And this evening was good. Like, really, really good. P.S. I realize chimichangas are more “Southwestern” than they are Mexican, but my mind likes to clump this category together.
The best part of this meal? Besides the fact that it was car-azy delicious? It made leftovers!! The kind of leftovers you can stick in the freezer and pull out one evening when you come home from work and you feel like death. And you realllyyy don’t want to cook dinner but you also know that if you order one more Naked Pizza or one more Spicy Beef Basil from Rod Dee, you’ll not only be broke, you probably won’t fit into your wedding dress come June. You briefly consider just passing out in bed and just dealing with the whole food issue in the morning, but you know your body needs sustenance even in order to sleep and that a good meal could be the best thing that’s happened to you all day. So, you grab a couple homemade chimichangas out of the freezer, brush them with a lil’ olive oil, and pop them in the oven. And done. And please note, the above was not taken from my real life at all. Really.
Baked Chicken Chimichangas (makes 8):
Print this recipe!
- 1 C brown rice
- 1 T olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 C onion, chopped
- 1 t chili powder
- 3-4 C cooked chicken, chopped (rotisserie makes it easy)
- 4 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (about 1/4 C)
- 3 T extra adobo chili sauce
- 1/2 t dried oregano
- 1/2 C salsa
- 8 large flour tortillas (about 10-inches)
- 1/4 C sliced olives
- 1/2 C cheddar cheese, shredded (I use Cabot’s Seriously Sharp)
(pre-heat oven to 400 degrees)
Don’t forget the toppings! You can do pretty much whatever you want. But these are my main Mexican food condiment squeezes:
- Avocado (to mash into guac!)
- Tomatoes (to chop into salsa!)
- Green onions
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Salsa (hot Newman’s Own salsa is literally the only salsa I buy. It’s the BEST)
You know what makes this dish even easier? Using a rotisserie chicken. All you have to do is shred it up. Of course, you could also cook up your own chicken or a few chicken breasts. That’s pretty easy, too.
Start by cooking your rice. Because there’s nothing worse than going to add rice to your final dish and realizing you didn’t put it on the stove yet. You may as well just call to order a pizza and curl up in your bed and cry. There’s always another night. You don’t have to use brown rice, but I recommend it. I don’t even buy white rice anymore because I think brown is so delicious and a tiny bit healthier. Plus, all mixed up with the chicken and the sauce, even if you’re not a brown rice lover, I think you’ll be happy.
Sauté the onion in a little bit of olive oil, along with the chili powder. Cook until the onions begin to brown.
Then add the chicken in, along with the chipotle chilis and sauce and oregano.
Mix in the salsa, as well. Cook on low for about 5 minutes. And stir the rice in to combine.
Warm your tortillas a bit, if you want. It makes them a bit more malleable.
Now, put a little cheese on the tortilla, place about 3/4 C of chicken filling on tortilla, and top with more cheese. I’m telling you, Cabot’s Seriously Sharp is the best cheese. A little goes a long way since it’s so strong and flavorful! You can top with olives, too, if you want. I forgot to add mine, so I just added them later.
Once your filling is on the tortilla, fold them up envelope-style and place on a foil-covered baking sheet.
I folded all 8 of my chimichangas up. I placed 4 on my baking sheet and folded the other four individually in plastic wrap and stuck them in the freezer. Once they were frozen, I placed them in a big freezer bag. And I’m already excited for a last-minute dinner in the future!
Anyway, brush the chimichangas lightly in olive oil.
And bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 18-23 minutes, until just browning. Keep your eye on them.
And dig in! Actually, don’t. Add your toppings first. I quickly mashed an avocado with a lime, chopped up some tomato and cilantro, and added a dollop of sour cream.
I was excited by how the tortilla crisped up, but knew the true test would be when I cut into the chimichanga.
Success! Honestly, this filling was amazing. The whole thing was delicious.
I’ll probably never fry a chimichanga again. Not that I ever have before. But you know what I mean. There’s just no point!
Before I made these, Chris was trying to convince me to make homemade taquitos. Because that’s one of the items he had in his freezer when I met him that he hasn’t had the chance to enjoy in a longgg time (much like those Hot Pockets and Corn Dogs). I tried to convince him that a chimichanga was like a giant taquito and, in the end, I think he agreed. He said this was one of my best meals yet!
Which means it will definitely be on the menu again soon. As soon as we finish the leftovers in the freezer. Which will probably be like, you know, tomorrow. Why did I even bother freezing them anyway?
Also, in case you’re wondering the difference between a chimichanga and an enchilada (I was), besides the chimichanga usually being fried… I believe the main difference is that chimis are made with flour tortillas while enchiladas are made with corn tortillas. Enchiladas are also traditionally topped with sauce, while chimichangas are not. The more you know…
Chris and I are headed to Mexico for our honeymoon (in a little over 3 months!!) where we hope to enjoy lots and lots of food of this sort. Have I mentioned how excited I am to lie on a beach drinking cocktails and eating mexican food? No? That’s because I can’t express it in words right now. Ask me again later.
What are you eating for dinner this week?