Beef and Green Chili Pepper Chimichangas

As I mentioned in my previous post, the wheat flour tortilla originated in the regions of the Southern US state of Arizona and the Northern Mexican state of Sonora.  A popular preparation in those regions is the chimichanga, a stuffed and rolled wheat tortilla that is then fried.  Both states claim the dish as their own, and there are many anecdotes dating back to the mid 1900s, that declare its place of birth in one or the other, with no clear winner.   Over the decades, towns and cities there, and in other states on both sides of the border, have developed their local recipes with distinctive fillings and toppings.   There is generally a type of meat and some cheese inside, and from there, anything goes: in Arizona, chimichangas are often topped with salsa, cream and shredded lettuce; in Texas, they might include rice and beans as fillings, while in Sonora, those extras would be served as sides.  The following recipe comes from Ciudad Obregón, the second largest city in Sonora, and top agricultural centre in the state.  I liked this recipe because it features two ingredients that are iconic of Sonora: carne de res (beef meat) and chile verde (Anaheim peppers).

Beef and Green Chili Pepper Chimichangas – Chimichangas de res con chile verde

Printable recipe:  Chimichangas My Slice of Mexico

Printable recipe:  Sonora Style Wheat Tortillas

Printable recipe: Salsa Bandera (“Flag Sauce” aka Pico de Gallo)

Ingredients (for 4 pieces)

4 wheat flour tortillas (9-inch diameter, homemade Sonora Style or from package)
1 lb (454 g) beef meat, such as sirloin or skirt; cooked and chopped
½ white onion; peeled, and chopped
2 cloves garlic; peeled, and finely chopped
3 tomatoes; washed, stem spot removed, and chopped
4 green chili peppers, preferably Anaheim 
2 jalapeño peppers (optional)
4 slices cheese, such as Mexican Manchego, or Mozzarella
2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for frying
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 avocado; washed
2 cups lettuce; washed, shredded
Mexican sauce, to taste, such as salsa bandera (“Flag Sauce” aka pico de gallo), Huichol™, etc.

Anaheim peppers are known in Sonora simply as chile verde – green chili; they are bright green, long and mostly mild:

If Anaheim peppers are not available, poblano peppers might work, and as a last resource, green bell peppers will do.  I like to add two fresh jalapeños for a little kick, but they are optional.  To roast them, the traditional method in the Sonoran countryside is to place them directly on dying ashes from a wood fire; in the modern kitchen, people with a gas stove char them directly over the flame, or use a skillet.  I have an electric stove, and I prefer to place them on a rack (photo below, left), then roast them under the broiler in the oven, turning a couple of times, until blistered and lightly charred all around (photo below, right):

Place the roasted peppers in a plastic bag or a pot with lid for a couple of minutes, then remove and discard skins (photo below, left); open each pepper and remove top, seeds and veins with the tip of a knife or a fork (photo below, centre); slice lengthwise into strips, then cut into shorter strips (photo below, right):

Reserve pepper strips.

In a large pan, warm up two tablespoons of oil over medium heat; add the chopped onions and sauté until translucent, then add finely chopped garlic (photo below, left).  Cook for another   minute, stirring, then incorporate chopped beef (photo below, right):

Continue cooking until meat is hot, then add chopped tomatoes (photo below, left); stir, cover the pan and allow to cook for five minutes, stirring once in between.  Uncover pan and add pepper strips (photo below, right):

Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and continue cooking for a couple of minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated:

Remove from heat and reserve.

Assemble the wraps by placing one tortilla on a flat surface, then scoop about one quarter of the meat filling on the centre (photo below, left).  Top with one slice of cheese, cut to fit; grab both sides of the tortilla, and fold over the edges of the cheese and meat (photo below, right):

Roll the tortilla over the fillings and folds (photo below, left).  Continue rolling, tucking in the sides, to form a closed packet (photo below, right):

Finish with the fold facing down, so the packet will not unroll.  Repeat with the rest of the tortillas, filling and cheese.

Right before serving, fry the wraps in oil, fold side down, flipping to crisp evenly.  The most common method is to deep fry, flipping once, but I prefer to use just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan (photo below, left), then turn around three times, as they crisp (photo below, right):

Once crisped and golden browned all around, remove onto paper towels:

Serve immediately, with sauces, shredded lettuce, a dollop of mayonnaise, and freshly sliced avocado on the side: 

Biting into, or slicing, the chimichanga, reveals a rich filling, with a balanced proportion of meat and pepper filling, as well as deliciously gooey cheese:


  • The name “chimichanga” does not come from any language or dialect; it was a made-up word for the dish, and currently has an accepted use as “a trinket”, in colloquial Mexican Spanish.
  • Roasting hot peppers might irritate eyes, noses and throats, causing redness, itchiness, and/or coughing, especially for small children and pets.  I always remove my dog from the kitchen area before starting.
  • The shallow-frying has produced wraps with a squarish cross-section, while deep frying would have preserved the cylindrical shape of the chimichangas. I do not mind it at all, and the method saves a lot of oil and splatters.
  • In Sonora, mayonnaise is a condiment often favoured instead of cream.

I am bringing my recipes to Full Plate Thursday #632 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #600

, with Bev @ Eclectic Red BarnPam @ An Artful MomKatherine @ Katherine’s CornerAmber @ Follow the Yellow Brick HomeTheresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.

I am joining Fiesta Friday #476  with Angie @ Fiesta Friday.

I am sharing my recipe at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up #411 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.

3 thoughts on “Beef and Green Chili Pepper Chimichangas

  1. Irene, these look so good! I have always loved chimichangas but have never made them. Now, I absolutely want to give them a try! I’m happy to say I’ll be featuring this post at Thursday Favorite Things tomorrow. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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