How to Make a Thanksgiving Leftovers Chimichanga

This is SO much better than that boring cold turkey sandwich…

Let’s be real: most Thanksgiving food tastes the same. The turkey can range from dry and flavorless to juicy and still flavorless; the mashed potatoes are either a mushy vessel for salt and butter or a mound of shattered expectations; and there’s always that one relative who fucks up the stuffing by getting cute and throwing apples and dried cranberries at it. Stuffing is for bread and animal fats, leave your dick-swinging fruit salad agenda out of this, Carol.

The real fun begins the day after Thanksgiving, when you wake up from the food (and maybe liquor) hangover ready to dive back in again. You might eat a stuffing omelette topped with gravy. Maybe a turkey and mashed potato grilled cheese twirls your beanie that day. Hell, you might even melt down a bunch of cranberry sauce with maple syrup and get weird with some waffles. I don’t know your life. I don’t want to know.

For my money, the only way to go is the Thanksgiving chimichanga—the undisputed king of national holiday-related deep-fried burritos that are also covered in gravy. Also, I had a bunch of leftover peanut oil from frying up this monstrosity, so it only seemed natural.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Leftover turkey
  • Leftover stuffing
  • Leftover mashed potatoes
  • Leftover gravy
  • Leftover green bean casserole
  • Leftover cranberry sauce
  • Leftover whatever the hell you want
  • Burrito-sized flour tortillas
  • ½ gallon vegetable, canola, or peanut oil
  • Your favorite hot sauce
  • Toothpicks

First things first, get your oil heating in a large sauce pot, or a deep-fryer if you got one, until it hits 375 degrees. That’s about the max temp that any cooking oil should get to, so don’t fuck this part up. You are quite literally playing with fire. Then, heat a large sauté pan on high in a pan for two minutes and throw the tortilla on there for 15-30 seconds, constantly moving around. Heating up the tortilla will make it more pliable and easier to work with.

Take the tortilla out of the pan and move quickly while throwing your food scraps on top of it. Give it a schmear of mashed potatoes followed by shredded turkey breast, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, stuffing, and a hefty but not irresponsible amount of gravy. No one wants a dry chimichanga, not even Carol, and we know she has shit taste in food.

It probably seems stupid to recommend exercising restraint while you’re assembling a deep-fried gravy tube, but, really, don’t go crazy with the stuffing. A burrito that doesn’t roll properly won’t hold up in the fryer, so pack lightly.

Next, roll that bad boy up. Fold the first half of the tortilla over the stuffing, roll it underneath slightly, tuck in the corners, then complete the second fold. To ensure it doesn’t fall apart, sear the crease off in a hot pan for 10 to 15 seconds, and jam toothpicks in every vulnerable area.

Now it’s ready for the fryer! Carefully drop your Thanks-ichanga into the oil and pull it out after about 30 seconds, when it’s a deep golden brown, and blot on some paper towels to degrease. Or leave the grease, whatever. You’ve come this far, now’s not the time to worry about health impact.

What’s the only thing in the world better than a seasonal chimichanga? That’s right, a seasonal chimichanga smothered in other seasonal shit. Remove the toothpicks (I hope you all assumed that step though) then cover your fried burrito in gravy, some sort of cheese, and—here’s a fun twist—a mixture of equal parts cranberry sauce and hot sauce. Because Thanksgiving.

Still hungry? Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.

All photos by Josh Scherer

This post was originally published in 2015.