Welcome to week 48 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Arizona, who joined the union on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 1912. I cannot believe we are at the last state of the 48 contiguous states! OMG! Can we really be only two more states away from completing this journey? Wow.
As we have learned last week, Arizona became its own territory when it was separated from New Mexico to allow both areas to create their own state constitutions and become states. Arizona was lightly populated at the time, and it was really not until the introduction of air conditioning and refrigeration after World War II that created a population boom to the dessert areas of the state. Today, Arizona is the sixth largest state in terms of population.
Arizona is known as the Grand Canyon State. Formed by the Colorado River over millions of years, Arizona’s Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and one mile deep. If you have never been there, you need to put it on your bucket list, and then make it happen. It is a magnificent sight that everyone should see.
When it comes to food in Arizona, there is (again) barely a discussion. It is all about the Chimichanga. The story of the chimichanga is believed to have originated in the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family and is located in Tucson, Arizona. El Charro café opened in 1922 by owner Tia Monica Flin. The story goes that one day she was making one of her famous beef tacos and accidentally dropped the burro into hot oil. As the oil splashed up, she began to curse, but there were children within earshot, so instead she shouted “Chimichanga”, which translates to “thingamajig”.
Now I don’t know if this story is really true, but it is pretty cool and the dish is extremely popular throughout Arizona. It is so popular that there is currently a drive to make the chimichanga the official state food of Arizona, who currently does not have one. I think it would be a nice choice.
As with all dishes of this sort, there are thousands of different versions, so I set out to find one that I would personally like. I opted not to do a pulled pork or beef style, mostly because it would be a whole day process and it wasn’t a taste choice I prefer. I opted to go with an interesting take on a ground meat version, which adds chorizo into the mix for some nice authentic flavor. I am also a big fan of refried beans in all this Mexican flare, so my version has beans as well.
I have never actually had a chimichanga before and definitely have never attempted to make one, but I have to say that they came out great and were easier than I expected. I really liked the crunchy tortilla outside and the tasty filling inside. Adding your own toppings makes it personal to your own taste.
Since they are fried, I will probably not jump into making these part of my regular dinner rotation, but they were pretty yummy and maybe when I am in a fried food mood someday I will pull the fryer out and make them again. I give the recipe a solid A.
Have a great week everyone and thanks for stopping by. See you next week in Alaska!
Recipe for Beef Chimichangas:
6 oz chorizo (you want the soft kind, not the smoked sausage style)
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ tsp cumin
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
6 flour tortillas (10 in)
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 c Monterrey Jack cheese
Vegetable oil for frying
Sour cream, Salsa and Guacamole
Remove and discard the casing from chorizo. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble chorizo into skillet. Brown 6 to 8 minutes, stirring to separate meat.
Crumble ground beef into skillet. Brown over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring to separate meat. Add the onion, garlic and cumin; cook and stir 4 minutes or until onion is soft. Drain off and discard fat.
Stir in tomato sauce. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover skillet; increase heat to medium. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until most of liquid has evaporated and meat is still moist.
Soften and warm tortillas.
Spread a couple tablespoons of the refried bean, then add ¼ cup meat mixture on bottom half of 1 tortilla; spread to within 1-1/2 inches of bottom and side edges. Fold in side edges, then the bottom edge of tortilla up over filling, then roll up to completely enclose filling. Secure top with a wooden toothpick. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beans and meat mixture.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Add oil to a deep fryer (or 1 inch oil in deep, heavy skillet over medium-high heat) to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
Fry 1 to 2 chimichangas at a time in oil 2 to 3 minutes until golden on all sides, turning occasionally. Remove with tongs; drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with some of the cheese and place in warm in oven on prepared baking sheet.
Remove toothpicks before serving. Serve with Sour cream, Salsa and Guacamole.