When you want comfort food with a decidedly decadent touch, chimichangas are champs. Certainly, deep-fried beef burritos are more time-consuming than tacos and other simple Mexican dishes. The traditional chimichanga method calls for cooking beef for hours until it is tender enough to shred. This flavorful meat is the star filling ingredient for rolled-up tortillas, which are then fried in oil and covered with a thick chili-pepper sauce.
Brown the beef in a large stockpot. Once it has browned on all sides, add about a can of broth, as well as your preferred aromatics. After you cover the stockpot, simmer the beef in the spicy broth until the liquid is almost gone, which will take at least 2 hours.
Remove the beef and set it on a clean work surface. Shred it after it cools. The beef should come apart easily enough to shred with a knife, two forks or even by hand.
Cook some chopped garlic in 2 or 3 spoonfuls of oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Thicken this garlicky oil with equal parts flour; then add several spoonfuls of red chili powder.
Whisk the spicy flour-oil mix until the lumps are gone. At this stage, add a couple of ladles of cooking liquid, such as tomato juice or the leftover liquid from cooking the beef. Reduce the heat; then simmer the sauce until it becomes very thick -- about 20 minutes.
Chop or grate any other filling ingredients you may be using, such as peppers, cheese or onions.
Assemble the chimichangas by putting the beef in the center of each tortilla. Layer the additional toppings over the beef.
Roll up the tortillas tightly. For extra security during frying, insert a toothpick or two at each end.
Put enough oil into a skillet so that the oil will come at least halfway up the side of each chimichanga; then turn the heat to medium-high. Check the temperature of the oil to determine that it has reached about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Set one of the rolled-up chimichangas into the pan when the oil has reached the required temperature. Fry it for about 2 minutes; then turn it and cook it in another 2 minutes. Once it turns crispy and light brown, remove the chimichanga and drain it on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining chimichangas.
Serve chimichangas topped with the red chili-pepper sauce.
For a healthier take on traditional chimichangas, bake them in the oven instead of frying them. After coating them on both sides with vegetable oil or cooking oil spray, bake chimichangas on a cookie sheet, at about 400 F. They'll turn crispy and golden brown when baked for about 8 minutes per side.
For a festive touch, serve chimichangas on a large platter with shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and additional shredded cheese.
Alternative filling options include rice and beans, chicken, or spinach and mushrooms.