Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Black Bean Chimichangas

Do you have a word that you just love to say? A word that just brings a smile to your face? A word that just wants makes you want to celebrate? If not, don't fear-- I bring to you the word "Chimichanga!" C'mon, say it out loud. You're smiling now, right? Chi-MEE-chang-ah. Chi-me-CHANG-ah. (I know, I'm having a little too much fun with it).

According to Wikipedia, a chimichanga is traditionally a fried burrito that got its name when a cook dropped some dough into a vat of oil, and (instead of saying a very bad word in Spanish), exclaimed "Chimichanga," which is loosely translated from Spanish as "thingamajig" in English.

I had never eaten a thingamajig (that's kind of a fun word, too) until a few weeks ago when my cousin Maria converted leftover chili verde into baked chimichangas. Boy, were they good-- a crispy tortilla crust enclosing pork, onions, tomatoes, and cheese, and topped with a spicy sauce.

Her idea to use leftover chili got me thinking-- what other kinds of foods could one put in a chimichanga? It didn't take long for an idea to come-- black bean and bacon smash! It's one of my favorite go-to meals, but we usually just eat it with rice, or I occasionally will use the beans as a "sauce" for pizza.

The beans are perfect for a chimichanga because they already have a Tex-Mex flavor from the cumin and chipotle in adobo sauce. And turning them into chimis couldn't be easier-- all you have to do is assemble.

So, obviously the first thing to do was cook the black bean & bacon smash in the slow cooker during the afternoon while I was at work (I know, it's pretty ugly, but looks can be deceiving!). Then I reserved half of the black bean mixture for dinner the next night. With the remaining mixture, I mixed in some roasted corn kernels (this is enough filling for 4 chimis). I baked frozen corn kernels in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes to thaw them out and give them a little bit of color. The corn added crunchy texture to the bean filling.

Then I set about getting the rest of the ingredients together: tortillas, a bag of Mexican blend shredded cheese and cooking spray.

I wrapped the tortillas up in a damp kitchen towel and nuked them for about 30 seconds in the microwave, just to get them very pliable. I also sprayed a small baking sheet with the cooking spray.

Next, I spooned about a 1/4 cup of the bean filling onto the tortilla...

... and then sprinkled on the cheese...
... and then rolled them up, just like a burrito, and placed them on the baking sheet.
(obviously I need a little more practice rolling them up! Fortunately the taste wasn't affected.)

Before putting these in a 350 degree oven, I sprayed the chimichangas with cooking spray.. I baked them for about 15 minutes. They were crisp (not quite as crispy as a fried one would be), but I think you could achieve mucho crispiness if you baked them in a hotter oven (around 425-450 degrees).

I didn't have a recipe for sauce, so I set out two jars of salsa from Frontera Foods instead: the salsa verde and the Guajillo salsa. The side dish is sauteed peppers and onions seasoned with chili powder and cumin! Yummy!

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