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Recipe: Baked Venison Chimichangas

Recipe: Baked Venison Chimichangas

A chimichanga is a flour tortilla stuffed with meat, cheese and sometimes rice or beans, with a unique blend of spices. Traditionally, the stuffed and rolled tortilla is deep-fried, but they brown and crisp up well when baked, too.

Ground venison works wonderfully in a chimichanga, and spices like cinnamon and green chilies create a flavor that will make one want more. The finished product looks and tastes like it took hours of preparation and cooking. However, the reality is chimichangas can be made on short notice and are a meal the whole family or hunting camp can help pull together.

• 2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
• 1½ lbs. ground venison
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
• 2 Tbsp chili powder 
• 2 Tbsp dried oregano
• 1 Tbsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 can (10 ozs.) diced tomatoes
• 1 can (4 ozs.) chopped green chilies
• 1½ cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey, pepper jack or Colby work well)
• 6 large flour tortillas (10-inch)
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large cast-iron frying pan, heat the oil to medium and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften. Add the meat and garlic and continue sautéing for 5-7 minutes until the meat browns. 

2. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and cinnamon and cook for an additional 1 minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and chilies and simmer until almost all the moisture has evaporated, stirring occasionally. The mixture should be moist but not too wet, so the tortilla does not get soggy. 

3. Grease a rectangular casserole dish (8x10-inch or 9x13-inch) with nonstick spray or melted butter and set aside. 

4. On a clean work surface, arrange an assembly line to include the tortillas, cooked-meat mixture, cheese, beaten egg and a pastry or barbecue brush and lay out the first tortilla. Spoon the meat, about ½ cup, in a line in the middle of the tortilla, leaving about an inch of space from each edge. Sprinkle ¼ cup of cheese evenly over the meat. 

5. Fold the tortilla. Start by gently bringing in the two sides, folding the inch of free space over the meat. Next, fold the bottom section of the tortilla (the area closest to you) over the meat. Using a pastry or barbecue brush, “paint” the top edge of the tortilla (the area farthest from you that has not been folded in yet) with a few strokes of the beaten egg. The egg will act as a glue to seal the seam and keep the chimichanga from falling apart. Finally, roll the folded portion of the chimichanga over to close the wrap. 

6. Once the first chimichanga is folded, place it seam-side down in a casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, meat and cheese. The chimichangas can touch each other in the dish, but should not be jammed like sardines in a can. 

7. Brush the tops and any exposed sides of the tortillas with melted butter and place in the middle of the hot oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then serve with a generous dollop of sour cream, guacamole and salsa.

For more delicious wild-game recipes, click here.

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