Baked Chicken Chimichangas

A devout vegan told me a couple weeks ago about yet another brand of vegan cheese.  I already knew about a brand I tolerate (averaging up the liking the "mozzarella" and the disliking the "cheddar" versions).  So I bought a couple packages of, yes, "mozzarella" and "cheddar" plastic flavors to try them in some future fleichig recipes.

The other day, while a package of frozen leftover chicken shreds and a package of frozen leftover rice were defrosting in the fridge to become the future chicken fried rice, I came across a recipe for baked chimichangas that used (surprise!) leftover chicken shreds and leftover rice.

A chimichanga, for those not in the know, is a normally a fried burrito.  This recipe, instead, called for lightly brushing the burrito with oil, then baking it.  And it called for a handful of cheddar cheese.   Woo-hoo!  A chance to use the pretend cheddar wannabee!

You will probably notice that nowhere in the pictures are the black beans.  The only beans I had in the pantry were pink beans and chick peas.  While some people might say, phooey (or something a little stronger) then open the pink beans, other people in my house won't touch them with a 10-foot pole (or any other eastern European resident).  They aren't happy with black beans either, but there was a better chance that they might be eaten (the beans, not the family members).  So while the black beans are included in the ingredients list, they were omitted from the cooking and photo op.  In my humble opinion, they were sorely missed. 

If you can't stand the heat, only use 1 chipotle pepper, otherwise for real good smoky taste use 2 of them.  The remaining peppers freeze really well.  Tip alert!  Freeze them in a freezer bag, flattened so that it will be easier to simply break off a pepper or two for the next recipe.

Oven Baked Chimichangas
adapted from My Kitchen Cafe
Serves 4-6, depending upon size of tortillas used

2 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
1 (16 oz.) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (about 2 cups)
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from a can), finely chopped
1 8 oz. bag of shredded parve cheddar "cheese"
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 pkg. flour tortillas
olive oil cooking spray
Frozen corn (enough for your family), defrosted and cooked

Preheat oven to 450F.  Place a rimmed baking pan in the oven while preheating.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When it is hot, add the oil, count to 10, then add the chopped onions.

Cook the onions, stirring constantly until softened, about 3 minutes (the onions may or may not start to brown on the tips, but they will be slightly translucent).

Stir in the beans, chicken, rice and chpotle peppers.

I know, it looks like 2 cups, but if you factor in the air pockets, it's really only about 1 1/2 cups.  Anyway, cook another 3-5 minutes, or until everything is heated through.

This is what happens when you forget to turn on the flash.  Remove skillet from heat, then add the salt, pepper, "cheese" and cilantro.

Place half of the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate.  Cover with a damp paper towel.  Nuke at full power for 1 minute.  Place one tortilla on a separate plate.

Along the bottom of the tortilla place 2-3 Tbl. of the chicken mixture.  Less is more here, folks.  And try to actually get the mixture slightly closer to the bottom.

Fold the bottom up over the mixture.

Fold in each of the sides, then roll up tightly.

It should look like a blintz if you did it right .  Repeat with the remaining warmed tortillas.  When you run out of warm tortillas, repeat the nuking with the second half.

Remove baking pan from oven.

Carefully place the chimichangas, seam side down, on the pan.  Sadly, several exploded during the folding, because I used more mixture than I should have.  Let that be a lesson to you.

Lightly spray the chimichangas with the cooking spray.  Return pan to oven and bake 10 minutes, or until chimichangas are nicely browned.

Serve with corn and any other veggie of your choice.

 Mine was Brussels sprouts.


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