Holy chalupa! And other fun foods!

While Mexican food – or at least tacos – are a regular staple on the menu in this house, there are many other Mexican dishes that are amazing, yet I’ve never made.  I wanted to try some new recipes this month to see if some of my favorites on a restaurant menu could be replicated at home!

So in this episode: Chalupas, chimichangas, tamale pie, mole chicken, Elotes, cheese rolled burritos, AND fried ice cream!!!

Chalupas, mole chicken & Elotes, and fried ice cream pie

CHALUPAS

I’m not even sure I’ve ever had a chalupa, since I’ve probably only eaten Taco Bell thrice in my life. I feel like I never see them on a Mexican restaurant menu, but now I’ll be on the hunt because I am hooked.  It’s not like it should be a surprise that a fried tortilla-like shell would be so delicious, but yet here I am, stunned.

The Chalupa! Fried dough shell with shredded beef, chipotle sauce & guacamole.

The fried dough “taco” shell was also surprisingly fairly easy to make. The dough came together quickly; I mixed it a day ahead of time, which wasn’t necessary. I made half the recipe and divided the dough into 4 pieces and rolled into circles. Frying the shell took attention, but the process went fairly quickly. Each shell only took a few minutes but you do have to hold the shape with tongs, while frying, if you want it to hold your taco fillings! I mean, who really likes their arm hair anyway?

For the filling, I used leftover shredded beef from the beef enchiladas I made earlier this month + fancy guac leftover + leftover chipotle sauce from my Taco Vampiro. Any meat filling would work, plus a salsa & sour cream and avocado. Like a taco, quesadilla, or burrito, you can use whatever filling you like.

Chalupa shells are best eaten immediately. I had one leftover that my husband ate the next day and it was ok; not as fluffy and crispy after I reheated it in the oven.

The filled chalupa shells were so airy and crispy. I would absolutely make these again!

CHIMICHANGAS

While I had a pot of oil on the stovetop, I figured I may as well deep fry another dinner. This time, chimichangas! I remember my first chimichanga, in California, circa 2004. Before I enjoyed that crispy burrito oceanside, my “Mexican food” repertoire was only quesadillas with meat and cheese, and ranch dressing. While the deep fried aspect of the chimichanga appealed to me, the idea of Other Things inside the burrito that weren’t meat and cheese – phew – that was risky. It had rice, beans and corn with the meat & cheese. Turns out, it was love at first bite.

No recipe is really necessary. Use a large tortilla and add your favorite fillings. I used mole chicken (I’ll get to that next), pinto beans from earlier this month (freezer item!), roasted corn, and a drizzle of sauce from Elotes (I’ll also get to that next!).

I loaded all of my ingredients into the middle of a large tortilla shelf and fried it in hot vegetable oil. I did have to use my tongs to keep the burrito rolled up for just a minute. After that, it held it’s shape nicely and I just flipped to brown all sides. It only takes a few minutes to fry the shell so I recommend heating any meat filling prior to rolling the burrito to make sure it’s hot enough. Otherwise, the chimichanga cooks so quickly, the filling may not be hot.

TAMALE PIE

Tamale pie is super simple to make and incredibly delicious. I actually intended to make traditional tamales, since I bought masala earlier this month for my empanadas. However, I feel like tamales can be pretty dry and just be too much cornmeal dough. I decided to make a tamale pie instead. I followed the recipe pretty closely, using jazzed up Jiffy cornbread mix, ground beef, and leftover homemade enchilada sauce (meal prep hack – I saved some from earlier this month!) instead of the canned sauce the recipe suggested. If ground beef isn’t your thing, you could use leftover pork carnitas (the same pork I used in my torta sandwich earlier this month) or shredded chicken. Here are the easy steps:

  1. Mix cornbread with creamed corn & green chiles; bake.
  2. Saute ground beef with seasonings.
  3. When corned bread is baked, poke holes all over the bread.
  4. Pour enchilada sauce on top of the baked corned bread.
  5. Add cooked ground beef on top of the corned bread & enchilada sauce.
  6. Cover with copious amounts of shredded cheese.
  7. Bake a little longer.
Tamale pie with ground beef was perfect for a crowd! And obviously with more guac and sour cream.

MOLE CHICKEN

For years, I’ve been wanting to make Mole Chicken. Mole is a complex sauce with a long list of ingredients that could cost you an entire weeks’ budget on groceries. Yet the deep flavor is so rich and velvety and enticing that I wanted to find a simpler version to make at home. Some of my fancy Mexican cookbooks had elaborate recipes, but then I found this crockpot Mole Chicken recipe on Pinterest and I chose it because of the shorter ingredient list and ease with the crockpot.

I chose to use chicken breasts because that’s what I had. I didn’t bother seasoning or browning them prior to putting them in the crock pot to simmer all day.

My chicken was only partially thawed and the pieces were huge, so it took about 6 hours before the meat was completely tendered and easily shreddable. I had so much sauce that I froze two extra containers and will likely use it in place of enchilada sauce to make a second tamale pie. The end result was indeed a rich sauce and flavorful meat.

ELOTES

To serve with my mole chicken, I made elotes, with is a fresh ear of corn covered in a delicious sauce! I used Jessica Gavin’s recipe and made just 2 ears of corn, and saved the extra sauce in case I needed it later in the week. Turns out, it was delicious inside the chimichanga (see above!). As if summer corn isn’t delicious enough, the sauce made of mayonnaise, sour cream, lime, cotija cheese, and seasonings will make you wish all vegetables were served this way. It was raining here in Michigan, so I used the broiler instead of my grill, and then slathered the sauce onto the corn. The sauce is tangy, creamy, and salty and worth eating every kernel of corn and then licking each finger clean!

CHEESE ROLLED BURRITO

Many months ago, I was inspired by a post on Facebook – for a cheese rolled burrito served at a restaurant in California. Since I never know when my next California trip will be scheduled, I knew I had to make my own version. The inspirational post was a breakfast burrito, so I did something similar. Using leftover empanada filling from my Cinco De Mayo post, I added some black beans, scrambled egg and avocado. I piled the mixture in a large tortilla, rolled it up Qdoba style, and grilled it on a hot griddle. Once it was browned, I added a pile of shredded cheese to the griddle and let it sizzle, and using a dough scraper to guide, I rolled the burrito right through the cheese. The melting cheese stuck to the burrito and made a crispy, cheesy shell. The only thing I should have done differently is used a rectangular pan (like the 5th burner pan for my gas stovetop). Oh and I should have used bacon because it was a breakfast burrito!

FRIED ICE CREAM PIE

Ice cream is one of my favorite food groups. So is fried food. So the two together, covered in chocolate? Pure bliss.

I did some recipe research on fried ice cream and found that the trick is having REALLY cold ice cream before frying. I have a deep freezer but it’s certainly not that great and I didn’t really want to take my chances of ruining perfectly good ice cream or making a huge mess. Then I found a way to capture the same taste without any special equipment or a huge mess – “fried” ice cream pie!

First, corn flakes, almonds & sugar are browned in melted butter. Then half of the mixture is laid on the bottom of a small pan – I used a small rectangular pan but an 8×8 or 9×9 brownie pan would work, too. I figured my pie pans were not deep enough. I mixed vanilla ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, Cool Whip, and cinnamon for the ice cream filling. That mixture went on top of the cornflakes, and then the remaining corn flakes were put on top of the ice cream. The whole pan goes into the freezer to firm up before serving.

To serve, I used hot sauce (some good stuff, although not homemade), and a squirt of whipped cream. The best part – the actual recipe only uses about half the ice cream, Cool Whip, and jar of sweetened condensed milk, so I guess I have to make another one! Or just double the recipe and use a 9×13 pan to serve a crowd.

This dessert perfectly captured the fried ice cream flavors and was simple to prepare and serve! The ideal end to a Mexican meal!

There are only a few days left in #mexicanmay! I’ve made countless tacos for just my husband & I, and for friends, so I will share my favorites before the end of the month. Did I miss any of your favorite Mexican foods?

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