It has happened to all of us: A restaurant closes and just like that, a favorite dish is gone forever. For thousands of fans of the Tex-Mex chain Chi-Chi’s, which shuttered its last 65 restaurants in 2004, that dish was the chimichanga: a big tortilla stuffed with beef, seafood or chicken, lettuce, jack cheese and salsa, and topped with a secret “zesty Mexi-sauce.” We’ve seen endless message- board posts from fans pondering the recipe and reminiscing about that unforgettable topping. Now they can taste it again: Chefs in Food Network Kitchens re-created the old favorite from memory.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Melt the butter with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet; transfer to a bowl. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt; toast 30 seconds. Add the tomato and cilantro and cook until slightly dry, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken and sour cream and warm through. Remove from the heat.
Brush a rimmed baking sheet with some of the butter-oil mixture. Spread 2 tablespoons refried beans down the center of each tortilla, leaving a 2-inch border on both ends. Top with 1 cup chicken mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. Fold in the ends and roll up.
Put the chimichangas seam-side down on the baking sheet; brush with the butter-oil mixture. Bake 8 to 10 minutes per side, brushing again after you flip. Top with the sauce, more cheese, lettuce and tomato. Serve with rice and the remaining beans.
Saute onions and garlic cloves in a skillet with vegetable oil. Add a pinch each of chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt; cook 30 seconds. Stir in green chiles; cook 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer until thickened, then puree. Stir in cilantro.
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Photograph by Yunhee Kim
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine
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