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.
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."
Chimichanga Recipe - How To Make Chimichanga:
Yields: Makes 6 chimichangas
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
6 (12- to 14-inch) flour
1 pound ground beef (hamburger)
1/2 cup red chile sauce or enchilada sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2 cups chopped green onions
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, 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.