It’s been a chilly month so I’ve had warmer climates on the brain. That’s why I’ve decided that Arizona will be stop number one on my culinary road trip.
Like many southern states, Arizona’s cuisine and food culture is influenced by Mexican and Latin American dishes and flavours.
When researching which local deliciacy to start with, I learned that Tucson, Arizona is said to be the birthplace of the chimichanga. A chimichanga is essentially a deep-fried burrito, so I was immediately on board!
According to one origin story, the chimichanga came to be when Monica Flin, founder of El Charro in Tucson, dropped a burrito into the deep fryer. As she was about to curse (the word started with chi…) she ended up saying chimichanga instead, which is the Mexican equivalent of “thingamajig!” And the chimichanga was born.
I, sadly, do not have the luxury of owning a deep fryer, so I found a recipe for baked chimichangas. I found a great one you can find from the Food Network. I will admit, the addition of cinnamon in the spice mixture gave me pause. I’m not used to using it in savoury dishes. However, it worked so well with the cumin and the other seasonings – I am now a convert! I did leave the cilantro out because I’m on the fence as to how I feel about it (and I forgot to buy it when I was at the store!).
I didn’t have pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, so I made a quick batch of pulled chicken. Basically, I take a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and season them with salt, pepper and a bit of chilli powder for this recipe. I put them in a large skillet, brown them on each side for about 1 minute or two per side. Then I add some chicken broth – just enough to cover them about halfway – then I bring it to a simmer, and cover the skillet. I flip the chicken after about 6-7 minutes and cover and let it simmer for about 6-7 minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked through. Then, I take it out of the broth and shred it with two forks.
The shredded chicken gets mixed into the onion, pepper, tomato, spice mixture with some sour cream to make the chimichanga filling. It gets wrapped up with some refried beans and shredded cheese in a large tortilla, brushed with an oil/butter mixture and baked for about 10 minutes per side.
The end result was a crispy, flavourful little bundle of love. I topped it with more cheese, and put it under the broiler just to get it melty. I didn’t make the Mexi-sauce that’s in the recipe – mostly because of time. I did top it with a bit of this incredible hot sauce and had a dollop of sour cream on the side.
(Ignore my less-than-skillful wrap job!) This is definitely a meal I would make again. All things considered, it was easy to put together – having pre-cooked chicken would cut the overall cooking time way down – and so, so tasty. The best kind of comfort food!
Thank you to Arizona, and especially Tuscon for this happy accident!
Join me tomorrow when we make the next stop on our culinary road trip!
In case you missed it – the recipe can be found –> here!