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Our cookbook of the week is Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich. Over the next three days, we’ll feature more recipes from the book and an interview with the author.
To try another recipe from the book, check out: Pickled poblanos stuffed with tuna; and Sinaloa-style shredded pork (chilorio de Mocorito).
Pati Jinich encountered a conundrum while writing her new cookbook, Treasures of the Mexican Table.
Nearly every recipe could have fallen into a single chapter — the one she dedicates to tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tamales.
“This book could be a taco book,” says the chef, author and James Beard Award-winning host of Pati’s Mexican Table. “Because everything you can end up taco-ing or burrito-ing, but, then, you don’t have to.”
Here, Jinich wraps a “very northern” beef-potato-chile verde mixture in large flour tortillas before pan-searing for chimichangas. But you could just as easily fold it in a flour tortilla taco or roll it into a burrito.
The difference between the three is subtle, Jinich writes.
Tacos, burritos and chimis all start with a warmed flour tortilla: tacos are filled and folded over; burritos are filled and rolled up or folded like a package; and chimis are filled, rolled up with sides tucked in, and fried (deep or shallow) until crisp.
Cook this: Pickled poblanos stuffed with tuna from Treasures of the Mexican Table
Cook this: Sinaloa-style shredded pork — chilorio de Mocorito — from Treasures of the Mexican Table
Pati Jinich dives deep in Treasures of the Mexican Table
The deciding factor became: Which is the most traditional way to find the filling? In the case of this dish, hailing from the northern Mexican state of Sonora, it’s chimichangas. (Which is also Jinich’s family’s favourite way to enjoy it.)
The options don’t end there, though.
“That kind of a stewy kind of a thing, which is not wet. It’s just barely moist. You can stuff it in a chimichanga or a burrito,” says Jinich. “But if you have leftovers, you can also eat it on top of pasta, on top of rice, inside of a sandwich, (or) in a taquito.”
BEEF AND POTATO CHIMIS / CHIMICHANGAS DE GUISADO DE RES CON PAPA
For the meat:
2 lb (907 g) boneless beef chuck, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
1 cup chopped white onion, plus 1/2 onion
6 garlic cloves, peeled
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 lb (340 g) potatoes, such as Yukon gold (3 medium), peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 lb (227 g) ripe tomatoes, chopped, or half a 15-oz/425-g can crushed tomatoes
4 fresh Anaheim chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced (see “Poblano Peppers: How to Prep“)
For the chimichangas:
8 to 12 large (8- to 10-inch) flour tortillas
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
Crema or sour cream (optional)
Diced tomatoes (optional)
Diced ripe avocado (optional)
Fire-Roasted Sonoran Chunky Salsa or other salsa of your choice
To cook the meat: Place the meat in a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot, cover generously with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off the foam, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion half, garlic, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons of the salt, the peppercorns, oregano, coriander and cumin seeds and stir well. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender and shreds easily.
Remove the meat from the broth and set aside; strain the broth. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the broth for this recipe and refrigerate or freeze the rest for another use. Once the meat has cooled enough to handle, shred it or chop into small pieces.
Heat the oil in the Dutch oven or a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and the potatoes, season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and the potatoes have begun to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they are soft and mushy. Add the chilies and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until the ingredients are well blended. Stir in the meat and the reserved 1 1/2 cups broth and cook until the broth is mostly absorbed and the potatoes have completely softened. Remove from the heat.
To make the chimichangas: Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat for at least 5 minutes. One at a time, heat the tortillas for about a minute per side, until warmed through. Remove from the heat and top with a couple of generous spoonfuls of the beef mixture. Fold one side of the tortilla over to enclose the filling, then fold in the sides and roll up into a burrito.
Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, working in batches so you don’t crowd the pan, add the chimichangas seam side down and fry for a minute on each side, or until lightly coloured.
Garnish with the lettuce, queso, and, if desired, the crema, tomato and avocado. Serve with the salsa on the side.
Makes: 8 to 12 chimichangas; serves 4 to 6 generously
Cook’s Note: There are a few keys to success with chimis. Always heat the flour tortillas before you fill and roll them. Make sure the oil is hot before you put the chimis in the pan, but not too hot, as flour tortillas are delicate and can easily burn. Place the chimis seam side down so that the seam seals as they cook. You can serve them garnished with the lettuce and cheese, but let people add their own crema and salsa so that the chimis don’t get soggy.
Recipe and image excerpted from Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich. Copyright 2021 by Pati Jinich. Reprinted by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.