How to Make Great Burritos
Just to let you know, this post was written before I started the paleo diet to help ease my psoriasis. Nowadays I eat a more allergy-friendly diet, but leave these older, non-paleo posts up in case they are useful to readers, as I know not everyone eats the same as I do. Thanks for your understanding.
A good burrito at lunch will see you through the rest of the day easily. But they can be pricey, especially if there are 4 or 5 of you eating together, as we often are. I still pop into my local burrito place from time to time, but I've started making them more regularly at home. Forget those burrito kits you can buy in supermarkets. Choose your ingredients carefully, forward-plan a little and you can enjoy burritos at home that are just as good as in the shops. And here's how I do it.
Buy the best quality pork you can afford. Free-range, if you can. Cheaper cuts tend to be more flabby and fatty and you can lose out in the end. And I always use pork shoulder and slow cook it in beer for my burritos. The shoulder of the pig is well used by the animal and so it's muscular and full of flavour. The beer gives the pork a savoury, malty flavour and during the long, slow cooking the meat becomes so tender you just need to shred it with a couple of forks. You can always add other ingredients to the cooking water, such as chillies, orange zest or herbs. To slow cook it, you need to have a little forward planning (this is no last-minute meal solution, unless you have some leftovers in the fridge) but it will be worth it in the end. You can, obviously, use any leftover cooked chicken too, preferably dusted with a bit of spice or doused in a little hot sauce.
The salad and veggies
You need something crunchy. Forget those floppy, wispy salad leaves you get in puffy, aerated bags in the supermarket. Buy an Iceberg or Romaine lettuce and wash, trim and slice it. This will add texture and moisture to your burrito. If you're using veggies, lightly pan fry some sliced red and yellow peppers and onions and add them to your fillings.
I always try and use Basmati rice in my burrito. I love its fragrance along with the pork and the other ingredients. For me, the rice has to be still warm - that's where all the flavour is, so cook it last. When I don't have any Basmati I have used standard long grain rice but it's just not the same and the grains seem to be more slippery and tumble out of the wrap. You can always cook your rice with chopped coriander leaves for more flavour, if you like.
If you don't have beans in your burrito, then it's not a burrito. It's a fajita. And for me, it's pinto beans all the way. Don't bother with those tins of refried beans that you get in the supermarket - they don't taste right (at least I don't think so). If I can't get pinto beans I buy a tin of adzuki beans, drain them and fry gently in a little olive oil and a chopped garlic clove. Within a couple of minutes they're soft, slightly mushy and ready to spoon into your burrito.
The salsa, dressings and cheese
So you've got your rice, beans, meat or veg on. Now the fun begins. You've got Pico de Gallo, which is a fresh-tasting salsa made up of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onion and coriander. Or, you can dribble over some home-made guacamole (a couple of mashed avocadoes, lime juice and sea salt), or go for mild, medium or hot salsa. It's up to you. Sour cream is also good in your burrito. I'll be honest. I usually go for at least 3 different types of dressings or salsa. And don't forget the cheese! If you can squeeze any in, make sure it's something like a mild Cheddar. It adds creaminess and texture more than a sharp, cheesy flavour. And while you're eating, you do really need a bottle of Cholula hot sauce to shake over for that extra heat.
The tortilla wrap
Always, always, always heat your tortilla before you start wrapping your fillings up in it. This will keep the rest of the ingredients warm, especially if you then wrap it all up in some foil which keeps the heat in and stops everything falling out of your wrap (which should be pretty huge by now). To heat your tortilla, just heat a dry frying pan, slap in the tortilla wrap and leave to heat for about 10 seconds on one side, and then flip it over for another 5-10 seconds on the other side. Don't skip this step - I've made it with wraps straight from the pack and you can't taste much of it - and they're more likely to crack too.
This is where I wish I'd made a video. But it's still easy. Just tear off a piece of foil, about the same size or slightly larger than your tortilla wrap, and lay it out on the kitchen worktop. Place your tortilla wrap over the top. Spoon in a couple of tablespoons of warm rice, then the shredded meat and/or veg and then beans. Dribble over your salsas, scatter in the salad and grate in the cheese. Fold in the ends of the tortilla wrap to your left and right, just to help when wrapping it all up. Use these ends with the pads of your fingers to squish the fillings around inside the tortilla so you get a bite of everything as you eat. Once everything is pretty well combined, fold these ends in, and, with the foil underneath fold the top of the wrap over your (now huge) burrito filling. Roll up, using the foil to keep it altogether. Unravel the foil at one end and eat.
What are your secrets to the perfect burrito?