Monday, May 16, 2011

Rockin' the Burrito Casbah, Part Dos.

(updated, May 19. See * at the bottom.)

This, in my opinion, is the be-all, end-all of burritos. It pretty much does not get any better. Maybe, possibly, somewhere in a remote town in Mexico, there's a 10th generation Mexican granny who's been making the original burrito recipe that's been passed down through the family of the actual creator of the burrito, and that one might be better than this one- but I doubt it. I'm pretty sure that one bite of this one and that granny would be furiously rewriting the recipe. Luckily for us though, you don't even need a recipe. It's dead simple. Here's pretty much everything you need:

Meat (beef is good, but I almost always use chicken nowadays)
Black beans
Your favorite hot sauce (I prefer a homemade vinegar-based jalapeño type, but for store-bought stuff, Cholula and Valentina are both excellent)

Flour tortilla dough
Jalapeño-lime spice mix

Let's start with the last two first: Flour tortilla dough recipes abound on the internet. Some list baking powder as an optional ingredient. It makes the tortillas a little puffy, more like the ones you find in the store. I never use it. I like mine not-puffy. They're super easy to make from scratch, so don't waste your money on the store-bought ones-- these are infinitely better. Also, the recipes are flexible so don't feel like you have to follow them exactly; the other day at work, I forgot to bring in a dough ball I'd made at home, so had to make one there instead- but I don't have easy access to the internet at work, so had to kind of go from memory. Technically, the recipe I made was 'wrong,' but it still came out fantastic. There's a recipe here if you want to use that, but this is more or less what I used at work:

Flour Tortilla Dough

2 cups flour
1/2 - 1 t kosher salt
1/4 c or so of fat (whatever I've got on hand. I've used butter, olive, and canola oil. They all work just fine.)
1/2 c or so of water

Mix the flour together with the salt, then add the fat and mix it all up with your hands until it's all nice and crumbly. Add some water and mix it up until you've got a slightly sticky dough ball going. Knead it a bunch of times, then cover it with a damp cloth and let it sit awhile.

And that's pretty much it for the tortilla. When it comes time to make it, if you've got a scale, a 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 oz ball will give you a pretty decent-sized tortilla when it's all rolled out nice and thin.

Jalapeño-lime Spice Mix

There is no specific recipe for this, nor is one needed. Here's what you do need-

Jalapeño powder
Granulated garlic
Kosher salt
Lime juice powder

Start with the Jalapeño powder as a base, and just keep adding the rest of the stuff to it until you think it's ready. I like a lot of lime flavor in mine, followed by the garlic. You won't need a whole lot of salt, but don't skip it altogether either. Jalapeño and lime juice powders can be found Here and Here, among other places.


Alright, here's how you make a totally kick-ass burrito...

Take your meat of choice and dice it up pretty small (as I've mentioned before, way easier if it's partly frozen) then douse it liberally with your jalapeño-lime spice mix.

As you can see, there's a lot of spice mix sitting on the bottom of the bowl. That's partly because the chicken was still a little frozen when I doused it, and the spice mix doesn't stick quite as well like that. But also because I might have gone a little overboard on the spice too (well, not overboard for me, but for some people. My general rule of thumb is: use a LOT). No matter, once the chicken thawed a little more, it all got absorbed. Let it sit like that for at least a couple hours. Overnight is even better. A couple days is really good. When you're ready to make it, the chicken will be thick and goopy, and not very appetizing-looking:

Forget about what it looks like. Think about how it's going to taste. And it's going to taste like the best damn burrito in the world. Also, see that little fan in the right part of the photo? You're going to want a lot of airflow when you start cooking this. Either that, or hold your breath for however long it takes to make. Seriously, use your stove's hood fan, your ceiling fan, and get a couple more from down in the basement. Once you start cooking it, the jalapeño powder really messes with your ability to breathe.

Fire up your pan, add a little oil and let it get hot for a minute or two. Add the chicken and give it a couple stirs, then let it sit for a bit. Stir it up some more, but know that the spice mix will start to really stick to the pan:

That's good. You want that. Let it burn, but keep the heat at about medium so it doesn't totally scorch. Once the chicken is all the way, or at least mostly, cooked, squeeze in a little lime juice to help deglaze the pan. Maybe some white wine. A squirt of water will work, if you've got nothing else. But not too much. Now is when you also add the black beans, along with some of the juice from the can (or cooking liquid if you made them yourself). Let that cook for a minute and it'll dissolve all that baked-on flavor and then you can easily stir it into the rest of the mix:

Once you get to this point, turn it down to low, or even off, and fire up your tortilla-cooking surface. All I've got is a wok, unfortunately, but it does the job.

Set it on about medium-high and let it get pretty hot. Toss your tortilla in/on the pan, and when it starts to bubble up all over, it's ready to flip. It won't take long, so keep a close eye on it. As soon as you flip it, add your cheese. (But if you forgot to shred it, like I did, not a problem, just scramble to try and get it done before your tortilla burns, which you probably won't be able to do in time at this point, so just pull your tortilla from the fire when it's ready and then add the cheese. It'll still be one kick-ass burrito.) Don't let it sit too long on the heat, though. You should probably pull it from the heat before the cheese is even mostly melted; leave it on too long and it'll become brittle and break as soon as you try and roll it.
It's probably easiest to just put the tortilla right on the plate and then add the meat/bean mixture and your diced, raw onion, because then you can just roll it up right there and be done with it, but if your tortilla is too big for the plate before it's rolled (like mine usually are), not a problem- it rolls up easy. If you're not really sure how to properly roll a burrito, it goes kind of like this-

Lay all your stuff in the center and fold over the two sides:

Then take the bottom edge and fold it almost the entire way over to the other side (probably even a little more than what's shown here), tucking it in under itself as best you can:

After that, just tuck in the sides and roll it the rest of the way:

Grab your lime, a big-ass beer or two (that's a 24 oz. in the pic) and a big-ass bottle of decent hot sauce (34 oz. here)...

...and prepare to be blown away by the awesomeness of it.

Yeah, you're welcome.

(If you use steak instead of chicken, lettuce and tomato also go especially well with it too- but not iceberg. Go for something crunchy, like romaine.

*Also, almost forgot! If you make the steak version and want to put a salsa on it, use this one, instead of something else- the two were made for each other!)

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Badass Meat Cleaver

I was going to do a post today on the most awesome burrito in the world- my Jalapeno-Lime Chicken Burrito... But I spent so much time running around town buying booze and weaponry that I probably won't be able to finish it tonight, so in its place I'd like to just show off my new kitchen axe-

The blade is about 7 1/2" x 4" (with a total length of 13"), and it weighs just a hair under 2 1/2 lbs. This will come in mighty handy should I decide to butcher an entire cow, or if I need to chop down any trees. And when
the apocalypse comes and I need to fight off the zombies, I will be prepared.

I'll be sure and keep it close by at all times-

(I'm going to work on the burrito post tonight and try to have it up on Monday sometime. If you like burritos, then you'll want to check this out because I'm of the opinion that you almost certainly have never had a burrito as good as this one. Ever.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

My new favorite cooking show

Epic Meal Time.

"Ain't no cookin' show exists like we exist."

Better than 99.9% of anything I've seen on Food Network.