Not *Those* Kind of Burritos
April 10, 2008
In college and for a couple years afterwards, burritos were a pretty substantial part of my diet. The burritos were as big as my head and they were wrapped in shiny foil: yes, I’m talking about those burritos. In college, my main excuse for my burrito habit was that the purveyor awarded you with a free soda to accompany your burrito when you brandished your student ID. My days of soda drinking are pretty much over (thankfully) and my Wildcard long since expired (sniff) and I haven’t ordered a condiment-laden, 16-inch-tortillaed burrito in at least a year.
But every now and again, the burrito urge strikes. Apparently, old habits die hard. So, I’ve attempted to recreate a healthier, more reasonably-sized burrito at home on several occasions. In contrast to my fairly good luck with making fajitas and tacos at home, my burritos had always fallen pretty flat. And I could never put my finger on the specific downfall.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Then, I found this recipe for Chipotle Chicken Burritos (which refers to the actual pepper, not the aforementioned fast food chain that was once so liberal with its fountain drinks). The slow poach of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (something I’ve grown quite fond of recently, after years of bypassing them in favor of boneless/skinless breasts) and the toss in a chipotle-spiked, tomato-based sauce caught my eye and made me realize that the downfall of my previous burritos just might have been that I’d neglected to sufficiently dress up the meat.
So last Saturday, when the weather was very fiesta-ish indeed, I declared a burrito night. A no-foil-allowed (and no post-dinner glut) kind of burrito night, that is. I’m happy to report that this recipe came through in a big way. The chicken was extremely tender and flavorful in a saucy, smoky, spicy kind of way. And while many of the other elements—black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole—were standard, the shredded cabbage, whole wheat tortilla and green chile-laced sour cream gave these burritos a new-and-different dimension.
When it was all said and done, we had tons of leftover fixings. So, I of course loaded up some leftover burritos for this week’s brown bag lunches. And, just for fun … just for old time’s sake, I wrapped them in foil. They were about half the size of my burritos of yesteryear, but so, so much tastier.
Chipotle Chicken Burritos
Adapted from Food & Wine
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, quartered, plus 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 large chipotle in adobo, stemmed, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with their juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons water
Four 12-inch whole wheat tortillas, warmed
3 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
One 15-ounce can black beans-drained, rinsed and patted dry
1 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup prepared pico de gallo salsa
1/2 cup prepared guacamole
In a large saucepan, combine the chicken thighs, quartered onion, garlic and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the chicken is fork tender, 1 hour. Remove the chicken and shred it into bite-size pieces. Transfer the chicken to a medium bowl.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the oil. Add the diced onion and brown sugar and cook over moderately high heat until the onion is golden brown, 10 minutes. Add the chipotle, adobo sauce and tomatoes and simmer over moderately low heat until thickened, 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour over the shredded chicken and season with salt and pepper.
In a blender, combine the sour cream with the green chiles and water and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the tortillas with the cheese. Spoon the chicken mixture down the center of the tortillas. Top the chicken with the black beans, cabbage, salsa, guacamole and green-chile sour cream. Bring the sides of the tortillas toward the center of the filling. Fold the bottom of the tortilla up over the filling and continue to roll until the burrito closes. Serve immediately.