My love of all foods Southwestern is deep and abiding. From tacos to burritos (breakfast and otherwise), quesadillas, nachos (grande or humble), tortilla soup and everything in between, I can’t resist. Well, maybe I can resist, but I’ve honestly never tried because I don’t want to give up any opportunity for any of those heavenly goodies.
These Southwestern Egg Rolls are currently the top of the heap of the goodness that is southwestern food for me right now. And most conveniently, they’re as easy and delicious when cooked from frozen as they are when you first roll them up. That makes them the perfect subject for today’s Make Ahead Monday feature.
I can’t think of anything I like much better than bright, festive onion, corn, red bell and jalapeno peppers, spinach, parsley or cilantro, melted pepper jack cheese, mild and moist chicken, substantial and creamy black beans and smoky spices wrapped up in a crunchy, crispy, dark brown egg roll wrapper. Hubba hubba. Or should I say ‘arriba!”? No really, should I? I have no idea if that’s even appropriate here.
All I know is this. These egg rolls make me happy. Very, very happy. They make my husband happy. Extremely happy. And they make my two eldest sons so insanely happy they’re almost weepy. The middlest son? Well, he loves the chicken, corn, black beans, spinach and cheese, but he’s on the fence over the bell peppers and onions. The gruesome-twosome anti-veg contingent? They’re not going anywhere near this many vegetables all mingled together even if it is in a deep-fried, hand-held package. Oh well. More. For. Me.
One day they will be filled with bitter regret for all the delicious vegetables they passed up at the table. In the meantime, I will continue to eat what is left on their plates, much to my waistline’s chagrin, to better absorb the unavoidable body check that will be used to knock me out of the way when they finally realize how delicious these things are.
Let’s get down to some nitty-gritty customization options in this dish, shall we?
- Use whichever leftover chicken you have whether it’s dark or white meat. I had a combination of leftover thighs and chicken breasts, so I picked the meat off and coarsely chopped it. Rotisserie chickens, leftover roast chicken, or almost whatever you have on hand will do the job. Just try not to toss something that is too strongly flavoured or overly saucy (for instance, chicken tikka masala or some such) into the mix.
- If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, you can omit the jalapeno pepper and swap in Monterey Jack for the pepper jack.
- You’ll note the recipe calls for ‘cilantro ~or~ parsley’. In short, use cilantro if you like it, use parsley if you don’t!
- You can deep-fry or bake these. It’s entirely up to you. Regarding this…
If you want that shatteringly crispy exterior, you are going to want to take the plunge and deep-fry these. There’s just no way to get the same effect from baking them. I’m not going to say don’t bake them, because they really are tasty when prepared that way, too, it’s just they’re different.
I shoved two of these under my husband’s nose; one baked, one fried. He looked at both and went for the fried one first. He gobbled that down then tried the baked one and it was gone in a trice, too. When I quizzed him afterward about which he had preferred, he said, “I don’t know! They were both good, just different!” So there you have it. Both good, just different. If it helps you to decide, he ate the fried one with his hands and the baked one with a fork.