The chimichanga might sound like a new dance craze but in reality it is a soft flour tortilla which is topped with a savoury filling then rolled and fried or baked. Tortillas — Mexican breads — have become popular because, like the hamburger, they are a meal eaten with the fingers.
Flour tortillas have been consumed in Latin American countries since Aztec times to mop up stews or chillis. They are the base for quesadillas, burritos, tostadas, fajitas and enchiladas or substitutes for breakfast breads, burger buns, pizza bases or pasta in lasagne.
A burrito is a flour tortilla rolled up with a spicy filling of meat or vegetables. Unlike a chimichanga, it is not fried or baked.
A quesadilla (pronounced kay-sa-dee-ya) is a tortilla filled and folded like a turnover. Alternatively, the topping can be spread over the tortilla, covered with another tortilla then lightly fried and served with spicy salsa or sauce.
Tostadas are flour or corn tortillas which are fried until crisp, dipped in a spicy tomato sauce, then topped with an assortment of salad ingredients. They are served flat like plates.
When cut into unusual shapes, brushed with butter and oil and fried or baked, flour or corn tortillas are great garnishes for salad or soups.
This is a great recipe for cooked supermarket chicken.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 long red chilli, seeded and sliced
1/2 teaspoon each: chilli powder, ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium tomato, diced
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/4 cup sour cream
400g can refried beans
4 x 15cm soft flour tortillas
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Brush a shallow baking tray with a little of the oil.
Sauté the onion, garlic and chilli in a tablespoon of the oil, until softened. Add the seasonings and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the tomato and coriander, stir well, then stir in the chicken and sour cream.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the refried beans down the centre of each tortilla, leaving a 5cm gap at both ends. Top with the chicken mixture. Fold in the ends and roll up.
Place the chimichangas seam-side down on the baking tray. Brush with more oil mixture. Bake for 6 minutes both sides, brushing with oil after turning.
Serve with shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, lime wedges and Mexican salsa. Serves 4.
MEXICAN STEAK BURRITOS
These are an easy fun meal if you allow diners to assemble their own from the prepared ingredients on the table.
400g lean frying steak
1 teaspoon each: paprika, ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup each: sweetcorn kernels, drained canned black beans
8 x 15cm soft flour tortillas
1/2 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded crisp lettuce
sour cream to taste
Cut the steak into thin slices. Combine the spices and seasonings and sprinkle over the meat pressing in well.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Sauté the meat for 1-2 minutes, until just cooked.
Heat the sweetcorn and black beans. Warm the tortillas according to the packet instructions.
Place a little meat in the centre of each tortilla, add the sweetcorn, beans, cheese, lettuce and sour cream. Fold up the base, then the sides and roll to enclose the filling. Serves 4.
Quesadillas are normally cooked in a frying pan which makes cooking for a crowd rather slow. These are baked in the oven.
8 flour tortillas (about 15cm diameter)
Filling: 400g finely diced, cooked chicken, beef or pork
150g fresh mozzarella or bocconcini, sliced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
pinch chilli powder
4 tablespoons chopped coriander
canola oil, optional
Preheat the oven to 250°C.
Lightly brush the tortillas with water. Arrange 1/8 of the filling ingredients on each tortilla, covering half of it. Fold each tortilla over to cover the filling.
Place the quesadillas slightly apart in a large baking pan. Brush with oil, if preferred. Bake until crisp and golden, and the filling is hot — about 5-10 minutes. Great served with a salad. Serves 4.