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Chimichanga Recipe - Chimichange History

The southwest is well known for its delicious Mexican food, and the residents of Tucson, Arizona, boldly proclaim their city the "Mexican food Capital of the U.S." The city has its own version of Tex-Mex food, which it calls Arizona-Sonoran cuisine. Because southern Arizona was once part of the Mexican state of Sonora, this style is considered the "soul food" of Arizona.

The chimichanga, or "chimi," has achieved cult status in Tucson. A chimichanga is a burrito prepared with a choice of meat, vegetables, and spices. deep-fried to a golden perfection, and served on a bed or lettuce with cheese and mild sauce. The residents of Tucson take their chimis very seriously and prefer large, overstuffed versions. Every restaurant and mom-and-pop eatery has its own version of this favorite dish.


History: Culinary historians argue about exactly where chimichangas were invented. Several Tucson restaurants claim bragging rights. The strongest claim comes from the El Charro Cafe, the oldest Mexican restaurant in Tucson. Family legend say that Monica Flin, who started the restaurant in 1922, cussed in the kitchen when a burrito flipped into the deep fryer. Because young nieces and nephews were in the kitchen with her, she changed the swear word to "chimichanga," the Spanish equivalent of "thingamagig."

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Chimichanga Recipe - How To Make Chimichanga:

Recipe Type: Beef, Sandwich, Tortillas
Cuisine: Southwest
Yields: Makes 6
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min


6 (12- to 14-inch) flour tortillas
1 pound ground beef (hamburger)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup red chile sauce or enchilada sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2 cups chopped green onions
Chopped tomatoes (optional)
Guacamole (optional)
Sliced black olives (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Warp stacked tortillas in aluminum foil, and heat in oven 15 minutes or until hot. To microwave, wrap a stack of tortillas lightly in paper towels and warm on high for 6 or 7 seconds per tortilla.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, brown ground beef; drain, leaving beef in the pan. Add onion, chile or enchilada sauce, salt, and pepper; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are transparent.

In the center of each warm tortilla, spoon 1/6 of meat filling. Fold tortilla, tucking in the ends to make a secure fat tube, and fasten with wooden toothpicks. NOTE: Assemble only 2 or 3 at a time, as the tortilla will absorb liquid from the sauce.

In a large pot or deep fryer over medium heat, add at least 4 inches of vegetable oil. Heat oil to 375 to 400 degrees F.

Fry the chimichangas (1 or 2 at a time), approximately 3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil, drain, and place on serving plates.

Top with Cheddar cheese, lettuce, green onions, and any optional ingredients that you prefer.

Makes 6 chimichangas.


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