Citizens, as we close out the year, allow the Glory who alone is TFD to share with you one of his fave street meals: burritos! 🙂
A burrito is a dish in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine that consists of a flour tortilla with various other ingredients.
It is wrapped into a closed-ended cylinder that can be picked up, in contrast to a taco, where the tortilla is simply folded around the fillings. The tortilla is sometimes lightly grilled or steamed to soften it, make it more pliable, and allow it to adhere to itself when wrapped. A wet burrito, however, is covered in sauce and is therefore generally eaten with silverware.
In Mexico, meat and refried beans are frequently the only fillings. In the United States, however, burrito fillings may include a large combination of ingredients such as Spanish rice or plain rice, boiled beans or refried beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, guacamole, cheese, sour cream and various vegetables. Burrito sizes vary greatly and some can be very large.
The word burrito means “little donkey” in Spanish, being the diminutive form of burro, or “donkey”. The name burrito, as applied to the dish, possibly derives from the tendency for burritos to contain a lot of different things similar to how a donkey would be able to carry a lot.
In other regions of Mexico, such as in the state of Tamaulipas, similar types of food are known as “flautas” (flute).
The precise origin of the modern burrito is not known. Some have speculated that it may have originated with vaqueros, the cowboys of northern Mexico in the 19th century.
In the 1895 Diccionario de Mexicanismos, the burrito or taco was identified as a regional item from the Mexican state of Guanajuato and defined as “Tortilla arrollada, con carne u otra cosa dentro, que en Yucatán llaman coçito, y en Cuernavaca y en Mexico, taco” (A rolled tortilla with meat or other ingredients inside, called ‘coçito’ in Yucatán and ‘taco’ in the city of Cuernavaca and in Mexico City).
An oft-repeated piece of folk history is the story of a man named Juan Méndez who sold tacos at a street stand in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez during the Mexican Revolution period (1910–1921), while using a donkey as a transport for himself and his food.
To keep the food warm, Méndez wrapped it in large homemade flour tortillas underneath a small tablecloth. As the “food of the burrito” (i.e., “food of the little donkey”) grew in popularity, “burrito” was eventually adopted as the name for these large tacos.
Another creation story tells of Ciudad Juárez in the 1940s, where a street food vendor created the tortilla-wrapped food to sell to poor children at a state-run middle school. The vendor would call the children his “burritos”, because burro is a colloquial term for a dunce or dullard. Eventually, the somewhat derogatory, but endearing, term for the children was transferred to the food that they ate.
In 1923, Alejandro Borquez opened the Sonora Cafe in Los Angeles, which later changed its name to El Cholo Spanish Cafe. Burritos first appeared on American restaurant menus at the El Cholo Spanish Cafe in Los Angeles during the 1930s.
Burritos were mentioned in the U.S. media for the first time in 1934, appearing in the Mexican Cookbook, a collection of regional recipes from New Mexico that was written by historian Erna Fergusson. In 1956, a frozen burrito was developed in Southern California.
Burritos are a traditional food of Ciudad Juárez, a city bordering El Paso, Texas in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, where people buy them at restaurants and roadside stands. Northern Mexican border towns like Villa Ahumada have an established reputation for serving burritos.
Although burritos are one of the most popular examples of Mexican cuisine outside of Mexico, they are only popular in the northern part of Mexico. However, they are beginning to appear in some nontraditional venues in other parts of Mexico.
Wheat flour tortillas (used in burritos) are now often seen throughout much of Mexico (possibly due to these areas being less than optimal for growing maize or corn), despite at one time being particular to northwestern Mexico, the Southwestern US Mexican-American community, and Pueblo Indian tribes.
My version of street burritos takes hints from Sonora, Mexico for the wrapper, !
The Sonoran flour tortillas are thin, very pliable, a little chewy and hold the ingredients in without breaking open. The recipe for them was originally from thecookerman.blogspot.com, but it has been tweaked by TFD with cold water (a necessity for making tortillas with the right texture!) and Sonoran flour with cooking instructions from Serious Eats. I’ve cribbed the filling, salsa and Pico de Gallo recipes from hispanickitchen.com, am using a tweaked refried bean recipe from Serious Eats and a Mexican corn relish recipe from Emeril.
Since this is a street burrito, it is served “dry” as opposed to “wet” – the sauces and salsa are on the inside, making it easier to eat without a plate or silverware. Yes, there are several sub-recipes needed to make this my way, but trust me – IT’S WORTH IT!
Citizens, I have every hope that you will love this recipe as much as I do – please enjoy it!
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- Homemade Flour Tortillas:
- 2 cups Sonoran flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup lard, very cold – preferably back lard from an heirloom pig
- ⅔ cup ice-cold water
- For refried beans:
- ½ pound dried pinto beans
- 2 sprigs fresh epazote or fresh oregano
- 1 medium white onion, ½ minced (about ½ cup), ½ left whole
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly-ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon Chipotle powder (TFD ADDITION – not in original recipe)
- 6 tablespoons lard (strongly preferred), bacon drippings (preferred) or corn oil (adequate)
- For the pork:
- 1 ½ pounds pork butt, fat trimmed
- 4 ancho chiles stems and seeds removed
- 1 small white onion cut into quarters
- 3 peeled garlic cloves
- ½ tablespoon freshly-ground cumin
- ½ tablespoon mexican oregano crushed
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- canola oil
- For the roasted poblano salsa:
- 2 large poblano peppers
- ½ white onion
- 2 cloves roasted garlic
- 2–3 serrano peppers
- 4 large tomatillos, peeled and washed
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
- ½ teaspoon freshly-ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon mexican oregano crushed
- juice of 1 key lime
- ⅓ cup chicken broth
- salt to taste, to taste
- For the roasted poblano pico de gallo:
- 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 large poblano pepper
- ½ medium red onion, diced
- 1 serrano pepper minced (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- juice of 1 key lime
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mexican corn relish:
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 ½ cups corn kernels
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ cup red onions, chopped
- ½ cup tomatoes, chopped and seeded
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 4 teaspoons fresh cilantro, minced
- 1 avocado (large, firm and ripe), peeled, seeded, and diced
- For burrito interior:
- Mexican Crema (preferred) or sour cream
- Shredded Pepper Jack cheese
- Washed Cilantro
- Sliced Haas avocado
- Shredded lettuce
- Lime wedges
- For the corn relish:
- In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring, until starting to caramelize, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, ⅛ teaspoon of the pepper, the cumin, and coriander, and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the corn is caramelized, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- In a bowl, combine the corn and the remaining ingredients. Adjust the seasoning to taste and let rest for 1 hour before serving.
- For the refried beans:
- In a large pot, cover the beans with cold water by at least 2 inches. Add herb sprigs, the whole onion half, and garlic cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until beans are very tender, about 1 to 2 hours.
- Season with salt.
- Drain beans, reserving bean-cooking liquid. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans; if you have more, measure out 3 cups of beans and reserve the rest for another use. Discard herb sprigs, onion, and garlic.
- In a large skillet, heat lard, bacon drippings, or oil until shimmering over medium-high heat. Add minced onion, Chipotle powder and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in beans and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of reserved bean-cooking liquid. Using bean masher, potato masher, or back of a wooden spoon, smash the beans to form a chunky purée; alternatively, use a stick blender to make a smoother purée.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until desired consistency is reached; if refried beans are too dry, add more bean-cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed. Season with salt and reserve.
- For the tortillas:
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the bottom blade, add the flour, salt and pulse 2 to 3 times to combine. Add in the cold lard and pulse until the mix resembles cornmeal-like texture, 5 to 6 (20-second) pulses. Add the cold water and pulse until a dough ball forms. (I like to do this by hand also. I think it yields a softer dough).
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and knead until the dough is elastic and smooth and no longer sticky, 3 to 4 minutes. Form into a small loaf shape, about 6 by 4-inches. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Divide dough into 10 equal pieces; roll each piece of dough into a ball. Cover dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rest an additional 15 minutes.
- Heat cast iron skillet, griddle, or comal over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, place one ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface and pat down into a flat disc. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to a very thin 8-inch round.
- Place dough in skillet and cook until bubbles form on top side and bottom side has light browned spots, 15-30 seconds. Flip tortilla and cook until second side develops light browned spots, 15-30 seconds longer. Transfer tortilla to a plate and cover with dish cloth. Repeat with remaining balls of dough. Serve immediately while still warm or put in a very low oven as you make any other items.
- For the Salsas:
- Preheat broiler to high for 5 minutes. On a foil-lined baking sheet, add the poblanos, tomatillos, onion, 2 garlic cloves (with skin on), and serrano pepper. Drizzle lightly with oil, cook under broiler for 7 to 10 minutes, turning as needed.
- Once skins on the poblanos have blistered, remove baking sheet from oven. Cover with clean kitchen towel, set aside for 5 minutes. When ready, remove the blistered skins, seeds, and stems from the poblanos. Reserve one poblano for pico de gallo recipe.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the poblano salsa into blender or processor and pulse to blend for a coarse salsa. If you like a smoother salsa, blend on high. Taste for salt, pour into serving dish or molcajete.
- In another bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the pico de gallo, cover and set aside.
- For the Burritos:
- In a medium pot, combine the pork, onions and garlic, with enough water to cover. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook at medium heat until it comes to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1½ hours or until pork becomes tender.
- Remove from heat and let cool in broth.
- While the pork is cooking, transfer the chile ancho to a glass bowl, cover with water and cook in the microwave for about 6 minutes or cook for 10 minutes in boiling water. Remove from microwave, cover and set aside.
- Once pork is tender enough and slightly cooled, remove from broth onto plate or cutting board. Using two forks or your fingers, shred the pork and set aside.
- In the blender, combine the drained chile ancho, the onions and garlic cooked with the pork, 1 ½ cups of pork stock, cumin, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, blend until smooth, set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil to medium heat, add the sauce from the blender and bring to a boil, add the shredded pork, stir well to combine. Lower heat, taste for salt. Cover and continue cooking for 30 to 45 minutes. If pork becomes too dry, add a little more broth.
- To assemble burritos, heat tortillas (if needed) on a comal or a griddle on medium heat for just 25 to 30 seconds on each side. Warm the poblano sauce for just a minute in the microwave.
- On a large plate, lay out garnishes and all finished parts of the recipe. After making and folding a burrito made with the various parts of the recipe, add garnishes onto the side of a plate, then place the burrito in the center.
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