Saturday, June 26, 2010

Garbage Burritos

Some people have heard me talk about them. Two people have had them. I find them quite yummy.

I got the idea for these from an amazing burrito I had at a nice Mexican café in San Clemente earlier this year. They called it an “Autumn Burrito” and it was a nice, earthy twist on the beans, cheese, and rice thing. I thought it’d be fun to recreate it.

I call this a “garbage burrito” because you basically put everything in it. Now, before you say “oooh that sounds like it’s hard” it’s really not. Yes, there’s a lot of steps and you’ll get a few dishes dirty, but get this, keep the right stuff on hand and you can make this for free anytime. And it’s really not that that bad for you. Choose your ingredients carefully and you could probably make it even healthier than mine. The other thing I like about this is its flexibility. You can swap things out without any problems. Out of corn? Throw in extra veggies instead. With that, feel free to take my ideas and run with them and create your own dish. The other plus? One recipe makes enough for an entire family to have seconds, and if you’re cooking for one or two you can throw half into the freezer for next week.

This is also a recipe that would be amazing prepared on a barbeque or a grill pan. I have neither. There is also a high likelihood that I’d start a fire with either one and I don’t think my neighbors would approve. I’m actually kind of surprised there isn’t a section in my HOA’s bylaws about me, but I digress…

So, to get started, you need to plan ahead. For the starch quotient in this dish you need beans. You can use canned no problem, I’ve done it before. Now, compare the nutrition label of a can of beans to a bag of dry beans and you’ll see why I use dry. If you’re going to go dry, throw 1/4 cup each of black beans and kidney beans into your Crock Pot in the morning and pour in copious amounts of water. Set it on low for 8ish hours. There is an overnight soak method on the bag but I wasn’t happy with how it turned out and this worked quite well. Once the beans are tender, drain them through a colander and rinse thoroughly with cool water.


One thing to note, the black beans will turn the water in the Crock Pot to swamp water and will stain the kidney beans. If you have an in-law to impress you’ll probably want to cook the beans separately. In my case, there is nobody else around to suffer through enjoy my cooking so stained it is.

When you’re ready to start cooking, throw two thawed boneless skinless chicken breasts into the oven at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Season them with salt and garlic powder before they go in (no pepper – it will burn). I prefer my toaster oven for this since it’s such a small quantity and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen so much. You can use any meat here – just cook it thoroughly. I just happen to not want to spend a ton and chicken is cheap.

With that going, start 2 servings of white rice. Don’t do what I did and forget about the rice until you were half way through the veggies. You can use brown rice here too – whatever floats your boat.

Now, it’s time to disassemble some vegetation. Also, say hello to The World's Ugliest Kitchen Counters.


Slice a large onion into 3/8” slices. If you get a REALLY HUGE onion like I did you can just use half. I happened to dice up the leftovers and threw them into the freezer for my next pasta sauce.

Also, quarter a zucchini lengthwise and then chop into 1/2" or so chunks. Chop a bell pepper into large chunks too (you might be noticing why I have the veggies I do in my garden…). Once this is done, pretend that I remembered to take a picture.

Chop up three cloves of garlic too - use more or less to your preference. I used three because I thought it might make that vampire movie go away and take its fans with it. Next time I'll try more garlic...

Throw about a tablespoon of butter in a pan with the onions, throw on a pinch of salt and set the stove to medium high. You’re going to sweat those puppies, not sauté them. Why are we sweating them? Because you’re probably already sweating with all this work and it’s only fair. Well, sort of. You’re sweating them to cut down the onion flavor that can take over a dish – doing this actually sweetens them. The other big advantage of this is that they get very tender. Nothing more awkward than your mother in law taking a big bite and a strip of onion sliding out and falling in her lap. With this you’ll be able to bite through the onions no problem. So, cook these on medium to medium high heat until they’re translucent, like this:


The trick is to turn the heat down whenever they start burbling vigorously. A little bit of a char is ok, but we’re not trying to caramelize them. Sure, you can, I just haven’t done it. Let me know if it’s tasty. I actually get this part started and then go chop up my other veggies.


Once the onions are done, throw them into a large work bowl and add another tablespoon of butter into the pan and toss in the zucchini, bell peppers, and garlic. Add pepper, a few teaspoons of chili powder, and a heavy pinch of salt. Sauté it up until the veggies are still somewhat firm, but would be easy to bite through. Once done, toss them into the work bowl.


Now it’s time for assembly! Once the chicken is done and has rested for a few minutes, chop it into narrow strips. I promise this chicken was cooked – it just doesn’t look it. Throw it into your bowl.


Throw in the rice, drained beans, and some corn too. I used canned because that’s what I had, but you can use frozen.


Give it a good mix. It’s going to need some more seasoning at this point, so throw in some garlic powder, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste.


Serve on tortillas or in whatever delivery vessel you want and enjoy. I happened to give homemade tortillas a try tonight and it was quite good, though I need to do some major troubleshooting on the recipe I found.


And if you’re really adventurous, put some Chris n’ Pitts barbeque sauce on it.


1 comment:

  1. You've turned into quite the little cook! I'm impressed!