Bring on the Chimichanga

The ChimichangaWhatever restaurant we go to, my wife always, yes, always orders the chimichanga. For those of you reading and do not know what a chimichanga is, it is first and foremost a thing of beauty, and secondly it is a deep fried burrito that is wrapped and folded as to not allow the grease to enter the burrito. These chimichanga’s can be filled with whatever you like, however they are traditionally filled with beans, cheese, and shredded meat, and accompanied with guacamole, salads, rice, or a simple sauce.

I have been making the “chimi” since I found out the second time my wife and I ate at a restaurant that served mexican style food, that she ordered the chimi. It was my time to figure out how to make them, and make them better, creating my own restaurant inside my own kitchen.

I’m going to be honest with you, I have mastered the chimichanga, and they are worth every minute of making. In years past, I have filled my chimi’s with cooked, shredded chicken, cheese, and refried beans, however this past Sunday, I took the day to make carnitas (slow cooked pork shoulder, shredded, then cooked to a bit of crisp for twenty minutes in the oven (trust me, carnitas is where it is at)).

Ingredients:

  • Large flour tortillas
  • Canola or vegetable oil for cooking, approximately 48 oz.
  • Cooked and shredded meat (chicken, pork, beef; recommended carnitas)
  • Shredded cheese to your liking (I use a marble blend)
  • Large can of cooked, refried beans

The ChimichangaHeat your deep fryer, or large, and deep enough pot to hold the oil, leaving plenty of room at the top. While the oil is heating on medium-to-high heat for nearly 10-15 minutes, begin getting all of your items together. This is a bit of an assembly process. Have your bowl of cooked beans, cheese, and meat ready.

I heat my large tortillas individually in a microwave oven for nearly 20 seconds. You do not want to over heat the tortillas, but you want them to be flexible. Have you been to Qdoba or Chipolte and watched them wrap your burrito? It is kind of like that, but not so big, and we will deep fry them. 🙂

Lay out your tortilla, and with a flat spoon, lightly lay on the beans, keeping in mind that this is the glue to seal the chimi. Then near the lower half, add your meat and cheese. Fold over the bottom, towards the middle, then take the sides and wrap them in. This is the tricky part, as you want to get the folds to seal tightly as you will not want the grease to not only unseal your masterpiece, but to get inside. Rumor has it you can use toothpicks to seal it as well, but hey, who needs toothpicks?

The ChimichangaContinue this process in order to fulfill your chimi graving. I believe I wrapped nearly ten of them, frying all of them. For the ones you want to freeze, let them completely cool, then you can either use your foodsaver device, or wrap in foil, then in a ziplock bag. When you are ready to reheat, simply take them out, and cook in a preheated oven of 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

The oil should be ready, so carefully place them in the oil and cook until golden brown. Place them in a paper towel lined strainer to soak up any of the remaining oil.

Trust me folks, this is a must make. It might be trial and error the first time around, however once you got it down, seriously, you will be in food heaven.

My Greek Chicken with Balti Potatoes

Greek ChickenAny time I am making chicken, it is typically a whole chicken, slow roasted. I typically go a traditional route, where I pat the chicken with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper, and possibly garlic powder, or onion powder. I often stuff the bird with a halved onion as well as a halved orange. Heck, while I am at it, I sometimes add sliced bacon on top of the chicken to add to the browning and crispness of the skin, as well as making a good flavor if I make a gravy for potatoes. This time around I took a different approach, only due to the fact that I wanted to do something different with my potatoes. These recipes are extremely easy to make, and was a really good comfort food in the sense of smell, taste, and warmth.

Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 tbs of olive oil

Greek ChickenPlace the chicken in a large ziplock bag. In the meantime, combine the garlic, lemon juice, and whisk in the olive oil. This will be the marinade for your chicken. Add the marinade to the chicken, massaging the bird in the bag to get all of the great flavors from the garlic, lemon, and olive oil. Seal and let marinade for 3-24 hours. When you are ready, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken on a roasting rack inside a pan and cook for nearly one and half hours. I basically cook mine until it is golden brown and the skin is crisp. I guess after cooking so many, you just know when it is done.

While the chicken is cooking, begin working on your potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 potatoes, quartered, then cut into large chunks
  • 1 8oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 medium sized onion, quartered, then cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbs of Balti seasoning

Balti PotatoesCombine all of the above ingredients in a casserole dish. Cover and place in the oven for one hour and thirty minutes.

I plated the whole chicken with the potatoes around the perimeter and presented it family style, as it was a family meal. Everyone enjoyed it. The chicken had great flavor, and the balti seasoning was out of this world. For a great leftover, have the potatoes with breakfast. We are making chicken salad sandwiches with the leftover meat, with a different take on my foccacia bread. Enjoy.

The Cookie

Oatmeal CookiesGrowing up is hard to do. I am still growing up, and now I watch the struggles my kids go through. Simply put, life is hard. However, our struggles and stresses in life can always be removed by certain things. I know many who will turn to chocolate to forget about the pain, stress, etc. I have always found my stress relief to be a cold beer. Along with that, I recently found it was my grandmother’s oatmeal cookies.

Now my grandmother could attest to this, as well as my parents, and now my family, that I am a oatmeal cookie junkie. Not just any oatmeal cookie, but my grandmother’s recipe. I will make note that my grandma obviously makes them better than I do, granted they stem from the same recipe, however some things are just too good when you always got them from your grandma.

First, combine:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Then add to the above:

  • 1 cup of margarine
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Then, the final ingredient:

  • 3 cups of oats

Oatmeal CookiesOnce everything is combined, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a medium-sized soup spoon, spoon out at least 2 inches apart, the cookie dough. If you have multiple baking sheets, then continue this process onto the second cookie sheet. Bake these between 12-16 minutes, depending on your oven. When they are done, not only get ready for the smell, but get out some racks so that you can let these rest, and cool off. I have wired cookie racks for these.

Ok, not that they are cooled (trust me, you will want to eat these immediately), get a large glass of cold milk, and get ready to rumble.
I have been making these cookies now for over two years. The recipe yields approximately 30-40 cookies, depending on the size. These are a must make for when you are wanting a really good cookie. They come out crisp and chewy, and will most likely disappear within two days. 🙂 Enjoy.

Mac-n-Cheese

Mac-n-CheeseA colleague and I had a recent discussion on velveeta cheese. Let’s face it, a block of velveeta is funky, but overall, truly tasteful in dishes like queso or macaroni and cheese. Now I have made several batches of mac-n-cheese over the course of my lifetime, however I would say that I took a different approach to this last batch. My first thought was how can I make the mac-n-cheese not only a bit different, but also something my kids would attempt to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small onions, or 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 4 TB of butter
  • Roughly 1/8 cup of all purpose flour
  • One box of medium sized macaroni shells, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups of milk
  • Cheese, lots of it, approximately 2-3 cups (I used smoked gouda, medium cheddar, and mozzarella)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mac-n-CheeseIn a skillet, add your butter and chopped onion. Cook this down for roughly five minutes on medium heat. You do not want to caramelize the onions, but let them sweat. Add the flour and mix through. Let this cook for a couple of minutes, then begin to add the milk, and gently whisk until it gets thick and bubbly. You can begin to determine the thickness at this point in time. Add salt and pepper, then add all of your cheese. Let this melt down. In a large casserole dish, add the cooked noodles, then pour of the cheese mixture. I put in the oven for even more golden brownness for roughly seven minutes. Dish out into bowls and enjoy.

I did have these for leftovers the next day and added a bit of chipotle in adobo sauce, it was rocking. I have also mixed in a crushed garlic and pepper paste that also added a great kick to it, if you are into it.