Sizzle Simmer Sauté – Wrap it up, the art of making burritos

Jennifer Ruple

In honor of National Burrito Day on April 4, let’s make burritos! The beloved hand-held food originates from Mexico and generally consists of meat and refried beans enveloped in a large flour tortilla. Americanized versions can include other fillings such as cheese, guacamole, rice, salsa, sour cream or vegetables. And then there’s the wet burrito, a burrito which is smothered in chile or enchilada sauce, requiring a fork to consume.
The beauty of making burritos is that you can use these traditional ingredients or experiment with your own combinations. Here is a bit of inspiration from burrito expert Josh Alexander of Orlando, Florida, aka my little brother.
Alexander is known to family and friends as “the guy who can make anything into a burrito.” While not a trained chef, Alexander does love his burritos. “My family thinks I have a problem,” he laughed. His suggestions, “use any meat. Chili, Steak-umms, breakfast casserole, meatballs and sauce – pretty much anything I had the day before goes into a burrito for lunch,” he offered.
Alexander’s tortilla of choice is a low-carb wheat version. “You know what’s really good,” he asked. “Leftover grilled hamburger burritos. The trick is to make two extra hamburgers and cook them a little rarer so they aren’t as dry when you warm them up in the microwave the next day.”
Thanks for these creative ideas for burrito making, Josh. If you’re looking for more direction in the burrito-making process, here are three of my favorite go-to recipes for easy-to-prepare weeknight or anytime meals.

The Taco Burrito

The Taco Burrito
The name says it all. The mixture of spicy, seasoned ground beef, Mexican cheeses, tomatoes, shredded lettuce and sour cream is wrapped in a warm flour tortilla versus the crunchy taco shell. Set out bowls of salsa, guacamole and green onions for topping.
Serves 4.

1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground round
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-ounces chopped roasted green chiles
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons water
Four 10-inch flour tortillas
1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
Diced tomatoes
Shredded lettuce
Sour cream

In a skillet over medium, heat oil. Add onion and sauté about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain.
Return mixture to pan and add spices and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir well and cook over medium for about 10 minutes.
Wrap tortillas in paper towels and microwave for 20 seconds.
Fill tortillas with layers of beef, cheese, sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes. Fold ends of tortillas in and roll up.

The Santa Fe Breakfast Burrito

The Santa Fe Breakfast Burrito
Our version of the breakfast burrito my husband and I fell in love with at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in New Mexico. At the market, the insanely popular burritos are ladled with your choice of fresh green chile sauce or red chile sauce. We prefer green chile sauce, so I’ve included the recipe for it below.
Serves 6.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 ounces frozen potatoes, onions and peppers mixture such as Trader Joe’s brand, thawed
Six 8-inch flour tortillas
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces chopped roasted green chiles
1 ½ cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
Chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 350 F. In a skillet over medium, heat oil. Add potato mixture and cook over until the potatoes begin to brown and the onions and peppers are soft. Reduce temperature to low.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, chiles, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into the potato mixture and cook over low heat, stirring with a spatula, until eggs are done.
Wrap tortillas in paper towels and microwave for 20 seconds. Fill each tortilla with egg and potato mixture and 1/4 cup of cheese. Wrap burritos and serve.

The Green Chile Chicken Burrito

The Green Chile Chicken Burrito
A true wet burrito. These rich and creamy burritos get an extra kick from smoky and mildly spicy green chile sauce.
Serves 4.

3 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
4 ounces chopped roasted green chiles
Salt and pepper to taste
Four 10-inch flour tortillas

Heat oven to 350 F. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine chicken, sour cream, 1 cup cheese, green chiles and salt and pepper.
Add 1/4 of the mixture to each tortilla. Tuck ends in and roll up. Place burritos in pan, seam side down. Cover with green chile sauce.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover, add 1/2 cup cheese and bake for 10 minutes more or until hot and bubbly.

Green Chile Sauce
A classic sauce of New Mexico, which is used for topping burritos or just about anything including eggs, burgers and pizza.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or Masa
1 1/2 cups chopped roasted green chiles
1/3 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the flour. Add the green chiles and coriander and slowly stir in the chicken stock.
Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
(Recipe adapted from “Celebrating the Foods of New Mexico,” from the Santa Fe School of Cooking)

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