Baked Chicken Chimichangas

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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):
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  • 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)

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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!)
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Salsa (hot Newman’s Own salsa is literally the only salsa I buy. It’s the BEST)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Once your filling is on the tortilla, fold them up envelope-style and place on a foil-covered baking sheet.

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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.

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And bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 18-23 minutes, until just browning. Keep your eye on them.

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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.

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I was excited by how the tortilla crisped up, but knew the true test would be when I cut into the chimichanga.

Annnd…

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Success! Honestly, this filling was amazing. The whole thing was delicious.

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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!

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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!

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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?

[Sues]

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22 Comments

  • YUM! Looks so delish!

    March 6, 2012 8:32 am
  • Erica said:

    hahah…I always say the ll’s in quesadilla now too :) . They look SO good baked. I want to try this. We had stir fry last night, tonights up in the air

    March 6, 2012 9:35 am
  • LOVE that it’s baked. The fried-ness is such a drawback to the incredible chimichanga!

    March 6, 2012 11:03 am
  • Wendy said:

    I can’t wait to make these…my family will love them. I had to share with Cabot’s Facebook fans!

    March 6, 2012 11:29 am
  • Michelle said:

    I have those “don’t want to cook” moments a lot lately. Thank goodness for freezing leftovers!

    March 6, 2012 11:44 am
  • Shannon said:

    those look fantastic!! you keep teaching me things too, now the difference between enchiladas and chimichangas :)

    March 6, 2012 12:20 pm
  • Jan said:

    Looks incredibly easy and a lovely ‘freeze for later’ food! Thanks for the idea and the recipe!

    March 6, 2012 12:31 pm
  • Kelly said:

    Chimichangas more remind me of childhood because they were what I regularly ordered from Chi Chi’s, house of clearly authentic Mexican food. :-) Ah to be young and not have to worry about calories ever again. I will admit that I personally have an unhealthy love of pan and deep frying. I wish I didn’t but I enjoy it so much.

    March 6, 2012 12:33 pm
  • Chris said:

    I am just about to eat one of these bad boys for lunch. These are one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten in a while.

    March 6, 2012 12:47 pm
  • janetha said:

    What a great healthy alternative to the original fried version! Can’t wait to give it a shot.

    March 6, 2012 1:36 pm
  • Cara said:

    This looks awesome and as I am terrified to fry anything, this looks like a wonderful substitution! I see making these this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

    March 6, 2012 1:59 pm
  • Christina said:

    Napoleon Dynamite reference! I knew you were cool.

    Thanks for this post – lately I’ve been stuck on an enchilada rut and forget about chimichangas.

    March 6, 2012 2:32 pm
  • I love this idea! I’ve fried my own chimichangas before, but then my whole house smelled like grease…not so appetizing.

    March 6, 2012 3:38 pm
  • Susan said:

    I love that these are baked and not deep fried like the ones that are served in restaurants. They look delicious!

    March 6, 2012 5:21 pm
  • Gia Grossman said:

    Nothing like this! It does look just like the fried version does and very very tasty!

    March 6, 2012 6:55 pm
  • Reeni said:

    My Mom AND Dad both say quesadilla with the l’s! I crack up every time. Can’t help it. Your chimis are delish – sometimes it’s all about the toppings for me!

    March 6, 2012 9:16 pm
  • Susan said:

    I would never think to make these but they look awesome!

    March 6, 2012 11:58 pm
  • This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

    March 15, 2012 4:24 pm
  • these sound awesome! pinning to try soon – thanks! or since you’re cooking mexican, should i say …. gracias! =)

    May 22, 2012 7:00 pm
  • Frankie T. said:

    I made these last night, adding some refried beans and fresh chopped cilantro to the chicken filling. I thought they were outstanding! Huge hit with the family, too. Although I love chimichangas, I had sworn them off because of the extra grease and calories that comes with being deep fried. These baked ones have most of the flavor and texture of the originals. What a pleasure to rediscover chimis without guilt!

    January 12, 2013 11:37 am
  • Sues said:

    @Frankie- I’m so glad you enjoyed them!! I bet refried beans were an awesome addition. I am so excited I can have chimichangas whenever I want now… And since they freeze so well, they can make for super quick dinners, too!

    January 12, 2013 1:15 pm
  • Beth said:

    Made these tonight for dinner and am so thankful for extra uncooked now living in my freezer! I subbed quinoa for rice because it’s what I had on hand and used leftover crockpot pinto beans since I’m vegetarian. Thank you for the recipe!

    July 16, 2013 7:08 pm

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