Friday, December 17, 2010

Rockin' The Burrito Casbah

The humble bean and cheese burrito- mediocre convenience store freezer fare? Not when you make it yourself from scratch! Behold! The homemade tortilla, homemade refried beans, the homemade jalapeño salsa! One bite of this and even the girliest girl will slobber all over herself to get some more.

I humbly submit to you that I. Freaking. Rock.


I had this for dinner last night and tonight. Both times I was freaking out at how delicious it was. And dead simple to make too (especially if you make up a large batch of tortilla dough and refried beans in bulk in advance, but even if you don't, only slightly more work; and the payoff is huge). I never, ever would have thought a bean and cheese burrito could be so good. Usually when I make burritos I go for chicken, or beef, or bacon, but I've had a huge bag of pinto beans lying around for awhile now and my pressure cooker just waiting for a chance to get used, so I finally made up a batch of beans and threw this thing together. It's almost too easy to make; you really can't do it wrong. As for the refried beans, there's recipes all over the place on how to make them, but I don't bother with any of them. Here's how I do mine- cook off a large batch using your preferred method. Mine would be the pressure cooker. If you don't have one, I can't recommend them highly enough. You can take unsoaked beans and have them completely done and ready to go in under 30 minutes! And that includes the time waiting for the water to come to a boil and build up pressure, as well as the slow method of releasing pressure (running the pot under cool water in the sink). So get yourself a large amount of cooked and slightly cooled pintos and throw them in the food processor. Add in a little of the cooking liquid, some oil, and whatever seasonings you think you might like in whatever amounts seem good. I tend to go very light on the salt since the salsa already has plenty in it, but here's what I tend to use:

Jalapeño powder
Granulated garlic
Mexican oregano
Lime juice
Epazote (a Mexican herb, kind of similar to oregano)
Black pepper

and whatever else I've got lying around that sounds like it might be good. (Chipotle powder is excellent, and I've found that a pinch or two of cinnamon adds a really nice touch as well.) You'll want it just a little on the thin side, since it'll thicken up as you cook it. Whip it all up and then toss it in a pot with as much cheddar as you like (I recommend setting up some sort of double boiler so it doesn't all stick to the pan on the bottom) and then it's pretty much good to go. You definitely want the homemade tortillas for this. They're just so much better than store-bought. There's quite a few recipes out there for them, and they're all more or less the same. I tend to use this one a lot, but this one looks good too. I've never made them with the baking powder though, so I'm not sure what sort of a difference that makes. The dough freezes really well too- I usually make up a double batch and then roll them out into roughly golf-ball-sized portions and then freeze them on a sheet tray, then toss them into a zip top bag. As far as cooking them goes, an extra large cast-iron skillet would be great, but all I've got is a wok. Seriously. Works just fine, though. As far as the salsa goes, THIS recipe is where it's at! So, so good. I make mine slightly different, though- for one, I'm not a fan of serranos, so I use all jalapeños, and I don't strain mine, either. Seems like a waste. Once it's ready I just blend it all up with my stick blender and call it good. No, make that call it great, actually. I freaking love this salsa. If you decide you want to go with a store bought variety though, Valentina is pretty damn good, and Tapatio goes pretty well on burritos too.

Here are those links again-

Flour tortilla 1
Flour tortilla 2
Vinegar based hot sauce

Give it a whirl. I think you'll be surprised at how good a bean and cheese burrito can really be. I know I was.

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