The debate about “authentic” food always fascinates me.
I recently listened to an episode of NPR’s “The Splendid Table,” where the host and guest were discussing the different ways people make sauce in Italy, and some of the recipes sounded very different than what I’d always thought was uniquely Italian.
The same debate seems to happen with Mexican food, too. People turn up their nose at “Tex-Mex,” claiming only the real thing is worth eating.
But I would argue that a lot of the amazing dishes in the States have benefitted from being tampered with a little—creating something new and delicious.
The recipe I tried this week for chimichangas is an example of that. A chimichanga, according to “What’s Cooking, America,” originated in Arizona, a creation by Mexican immigrants, where a traditional burrito received a deep-fried treatment.
This recipe is another step away from the original because it is baked, but despite its departure from the “authentic” version, it is absolutely delicious.
The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Munchkin Time.” You can find the original post at https://www.munchkintime.com/easy-30-minute-chicken-chimichanga-recipe/. I’m combining two of her recipes together for you, and I doubled the cumin in my version.
Chicken Chimichangas with White Sauce
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup Monterey Jack shredded cheese
- 4 ounces diced chiles
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 6 soft-taco-size flour tortillas
- melted butter to brush tops
White Sauce Ingredients
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup sour cream I used fat free
- 4 ounces cream cheese I used fat free
- 4 ounces green chiles drained
- 1 to 4 teaspoons hot sauce I used chipotle Tabasco
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In an oven-safe skillet, heat a tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat.
- Add the chicken breasts and cook for about four minutes (or until you get a nice sear). Flip the breasts over and slide the skillet into the oven. Check the chicken after about 10 minutes, and remove it from the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- While the chicken is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it is melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for a couple minutes.
- Whisk in the broth slowly, making sure to break up clumps as you do. Once the mixture is smooth, add the rest of the sauce ingredients and let the mixture come up to a slow boil, stirring regularly to incorporate everything. Once the mixture starts to bubble, remove it from the heat.
- For the chimichangas, shred the chicken and add in the shredded cheese, chiles, cumin, salt and pepper and one cup of the white sauce and stir until well combined.
- Warm the tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Spoon about 2/3 cup of the chicken mixture into the center of each tortilla, and wrap them by folding in the sides and then the ends to seal them.
- Place them seam side down on a baking sheet.
- Brush each chimichanga with the melted butter and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
- Serve them with a ladle of the white sauce over top.
These were amazing. I think Joey told me at least four times during dinner how much he liked them, so I will be making these again, I’m sure.
The cheese sauce was absolute perfection, and honestly, even if you don’t want to make the chimichangas, make the white sauce and use it as a dip for chips. It’s fantastic.
This probably wouldn’t meet the approval of those who look only for “authentic” Mexican food, but I can tell you without a doubt that my stomach didn’t mind the lack of authenticity even a little.
This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 24, 2020.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.