|Meals inspired by the Sunny funny bunch - Photo by Wasabi Prime, cast photo from IMDB.com|
One of Mr. Wasabi's favorite TV series is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, probably one of the most inappropriate, offensive sitcoms full of the worst bunch of rude-a-saurus rex characters you'll ever meet. Which of course is why it's so damn funny. I haven't seen every episode, but I've seen such classics as when the gang gets addicted to meth or Dee tries to get into the black market baby-selling business. Shenanigans galore!! Friends and Seinfeld this ain't, and that's probably why it's the one sitcom I can somewhat tolerate, as most sitcoms are so milquetoast and the humor feels about as canned as a block of Spam (sorry, Spam). So when the new season of Sunny came out, with Mac getting beefcaked-out on fast food, hauling a Hefty bag full o' fried goodness, why wouldn't you be inspired by such a culinary feat??
|Mac gets hefty, but Wasabi tries to keep it healthy when a food craving comes on - food photos by Wasabi Prime|
Chimichangas are one of those Americanized cultural dishes, much like General Tso's Chicken or Teriyaki beef bowls. It doesn't really exist in the natural culinary landscape, but it took America to take an anomalous dish and breed it into our knowledge of unhealthy but delicious food-based lifeforms. Kind of like white tigers. Chimichangas may have started out as a simple, basic burrito, but then Southwest TexMex-style cooking got a hold of it and dropped it straight into a vat of fry oil. The tortilla gets all crispety-crunchety, the inside becomes a melty mix of fatty meat, cheese and maybe a scrap of a vegetable or two, and if you can avoid burning all the skin off the inside of your mouth as you bite into it, it's pretty darn delicious. Much like watching an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it's a big ol' naughty, indulgence that you can't help enjoy every minute of. I remember eating these when I used to live in Arizona and also remember the fry oil hangover that inevitably follows. It's a deep-fried lethargy that's like no other, and I feel my arteries harden just thinking of those bygone days of ill-conceived meal choices. Ahh.... memories.
Of course, a lack of nutritional good sense and sitcom humor behaving badly won't dissuade me. I wanted to make a Chimichanga that wouldn't be a one-way ticket to Lipitor-Land. I made two different batches of fillings -- a Southwest-style mix of peppers, black beans, chicken and corn, then a hash of kale, sweet potatoes and sausage. I used phyllo dough in place of tortillas, brushing a couple of sheets with vegetable oil and rolling up some of the filling and making little packets that could be baked in the oven. The dough crisps up nicely in the oven, baking it according to the package directions, and the filling is already cooked, so the oven time is just to give it that crunchy bite. Once they were done, I let them cool a little and they were small handheld snack-sized munchies that came in handy the Saturday night I made them.
We were invited by friends to have drinks last-minute that night. Fortified on baked faux Chimichangas, we managed to keep the Kraken from fully being unleashed after several beers and much karaoke. Usually food like this is what you eat after a long booze bender, but in this case, it ended up keeping the night from being a total washout. Saved by baked Chimichangas. There's a first time for everything. It's not to say we didn't wake up with a little bit of a hangover (mostly the sore-throat feeling from howling out "Sweet Caroline"), but that's where the leftover kale and sweet potato hash filling came in handy -- throw a fried egg on it, and we could forget all our shenanigans from the night before. Don't worry, no meth or black market baby-selling. That I remember, at least...
|Leftover kale hash hides all sins from the night before - Food Photos by Wasabi Prime|