Chicken Chimighangas

If you’ve ever made Chimichangas, you’ll know that the first 15 second of frying are incredibly tense. I used a combination of tongs and metal spatula to hold the burritos tightly in place until the tortilla becomes crispy enough to hold the seams together. Despite all my precautions, I’ve always had about 1/3 of my Chimichangas partially open up during frying; a splattering mess. Today’s recipe completely solves that problem, with an “old school” solution to my most vexing chimi-problem. Simply paste the seams closed with a mixture of water and flour. Viola! My blood pressure remains low with 0% chance of leakage. My greatest culinary discover in 2013 (so far). Particular surprising since I don’t generally trust Chris Kimball with Mexican food. Delicious. 4-stars, but can easily become 5-stars once a few minor issues (see below) are worked out.

Easy Chicken Chimichangas without the worry

Easy Chicken Chimichangas without the worry

Chimichangas are just deep-fried burritos, and deep-frying anything can often make them more delicious (of course also less healthy). They are a dietary splurge, and I’ve been making my own beef-recipe for a few years. Unfortunately, the 3-1/2 hours required means that I only make them a few times a year.  However, today’s Chicken Chimichangas can be made in just over an hour. They are delicious (though not as inherently flavorful as beef) and definitely worth the moderate effort.

Issues:

  1. Chris Kimball says to cook the chicken breast to 160-degrees in just 15 minutes. I found that it wasn’t nearly enough and that I needed a full 25 minutes. I see that my chicken breasts were more than 6-ounces each, so be sure to work off temperature rather than time.
  2. Issue #1 caused another problem. After 25 minutes on the stove-top my rice had turned to mush. So I suggest paying close attention to the size of your breasts; size does matter. If they are on the larger size reduce the par-cooking of the rice in step 2. I will try 2 minutes next time. If you successfully find the diminutive 6-ounce breasts called for in the recipe, then microwave the rice for the full 5 minutes.
  3. I used a cast-iron dutch oven, which calls for 1-3/4 cups of chicken broth, but if you are using a non-cast-iron dutch oven then the recipe calls for using only 1-1/4 cups. I’m not sure why.
  4. Chris Kimball calls for simply dividing the mixture in 4 equal parts; one part for each Chimichanga. But the variable size of the chicken breasts make this unworkable. I had enough mixture for 6 chimichangas; not just 4.
  5. I found that there was not enough paste (it went on thickly), so I double the amount of paste in the recipe below to prevent myself from running out.
  6. Of course, the Chimichangas could use a little more spiciness. Next time I’m going to double the chili powder and cumin, or maybe add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
  7. Frying the Chimichangas in just 3 cups of oil meant that the tops became scorched. Next time I will try to fry them in 6 cups of oil for more even cooking. (see how even they look with 6 cups; photo here)

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $8.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium/High.
Started: 5:00 pm  Ready:  6:15 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe from Season 5 of Cook’s Country is here. The descriptions of how I cooked them today are given below.

1-3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
Salt and pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6-ounces each)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can pinto beans, (15-ounce)
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon water
4 ten-inch flour tortillas
3 cups peanut or vegetable oil
Serve with salsa, sour cream and/or diced avocado.

  1. You’ll need two cutting boards, so designate one for vegetables from the start. Mince chipotle so that you have 1 tablespoon. Add 1-3/4 cups chicken broth to a 2-cup measuring cup together with 1 tablespoon of minced chipotle. Stir together using a fork.
  2. In a medium bowl, add 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup of the broth/chipotle mixture and 1/4 teaspoon table salt. Stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, use paper towels to pat the chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and ground pepper. Finely dice your onion and peel your garlic cloves. Also, rinse your pinto beans under cold running water.
  4. Put a dutch oven over medium-high burner and heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until it just begins to smoke. Add minced onions and cook for 2 to 5 minutes (see Issue #2); until they becomes softened but not at all browned.
  5. Add chili powder, cumin and press your peeled garlic cloves directly into pot. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the remaining 1-1/4 cups broth mixture (or 3/4 cup depending upon type of pot), the half-cooked rice, and the rinsed beans. Bring the mixture up to a boil.
  6. Reduce your burner to medium-low. Lay chicken on-top of other ingredients in the pot, cook, and flip after 10 minutes.  Continue cooking on the second side for an additional 5 to 15 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160-degrees.
  7. Remove chicken and place on a cutting board, allow the chicken to rest for 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, use paper towels to wipe out the bowl used to parcook the rice (you don’t want to mix in an half-cooked grains of rice), then empty the cooked rice mixture into the bowl. Wash your now-empty Dutch oven and dry thoroughly.  Also chop cilantro yield 1/3-cup, and shred your 4-ounces of cheddar cheese.
  8. Dice the cooked chicken into 1/2″ pieces. Add chicken, cilantro and cheese to bowl and stir until everything is evenly combined.
  9. Put 4 tortillas on a serving plate, and cover using another overturned serving plate. Microwave for 1 minutes to soften tortillas.
  10. Add 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons to a small/tiny bowl; use a fork to combine into a paste-like consistency.
  11. Make burritos one at a time. Lay out the warm tortilla on your work surface. Use a pastry brush to paint the entire edge of the tortilla with paste. Tightly wrap the top and bottom of the tortilla forming a stuffing-filled tube (i,e, leaving the ends open). Gently press down to seal the burrito and flatten the ends. Paint the end with a little more paste (see photo below) and fold over ends to seal both sides of the burrito. Repeat with remaining filling.
  12. While you are making the burritos, pre-heat 3-cups oil in the clean Dutch over medium-high burner for 10 minutes; or until it reaches 325-degrees. Fry two burritos at a time, seam-side down, for 2 minutes per side. Adjust the temperature to ensure that the oil remains between 300-and-325-degrees at all times. Drain over a wire rack and use paper towels to blot away as much oil as you can. Once the oil has returned to 325-degrees repeat cooking process with the remaining burritos.
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2 Responses to Chicken Chimighangas

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing, I was wondering how these would turn out with the flour paste (I’ve always used toothpicks). Will have to try that method but something more along your beef recipe vs. this, I am totally against rice inside a tortilla in any form!

    • Hi,

      I have tried toothpicks also, but I still got splattering because the toothpick holes gradually got bigger as the chimichangas cooked. I have never added rice to my burritos before. I’ve always felt like it was just a filler, a cheap way to give me less meat. But this recipe uses a small amount of rice, and it didn’t feel like it got in the way of anything.

      Mark

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