Who doesn’t love a good burrito?
Like burgers, I think burritos get a bad rap (no pun intended). For this dish, I wanted to have something that was still hearty and scratched that Mexican-flavor itch, but I also wanted it to be fresh and flavorful, not greasy and drowning in muddled flavors hidden under some ground beef slurry.
The end result was very fresh and flavorful: I rubbed a chicken down with some pretty strong, savory spices (think cinnamony, limey adobo) and roasted it. This was then chopped and pulled into tender chunks of juicy meat. By itself, this was tasty, but a burrito just cries out for salsa, or at least some kind of sauce. Since beef wasn’t in the cards today, I thought a mojo sauce would be better for chicken than a tomato-ey salsa (mojo is typically a largely citrus-based sauce, if you’ve never had it. Sweet, acidic, and very vibrant), so I tossed the pulled chicken in the mojo sauce, and this was ultimately destined for a burrito containing rice, black beans, roasted peppers (and who doesn’t love roasted peppers? They become something completely different…), avocado, and cheese. And this was no little burrito–this was one of those child’s arm sized burritos, because dammit, I was hungry. 😉 Very hearty, but you could certainly portion it out differently to be a little less hearty (I made 8 burritos. 12 might be better if you want something “lunch-sized” rather than “dinner-sized”). Flavor-wise though, this was really fresh tasting: citric, light, juicy, slightly spicy, and rich. All in all, a very good burrito, if I do say so myself. 😉 What toppings/fillings/sauces do you normally like to see in your burritos/fajitas?
- 8 flour tortillas
- ~4 lb whole chicken
- 1 lime
- Chicken butter rub
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp adobo sauce
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- ground black pepper
- dash of ground cinammon
- dash of smoked paprika
- Mojo sauce
- 1/2 tsp adobo
- 6-8 cloves garlic
- 1 big shallot
- 1 big handful cilantro
- a few scallions
- juice of 2 limes
- juice of 2 oranges
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- some chilis (I had a serrano and 2 cayennes)
- bay leaf
- black pepper
- dash of cumin
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 poblano peppers
- 3 jalapeño peppers
- 2 Haas avocados
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
The first step to this dish is to get the roasting going since that takes the bulk of the time. So preheat the oven to 375?F and gather the peppers (I chose red bell, poblano, and jalapeño, but use whatever suits your fancy) and rub them with olive oil. Tightly wrap each kind of pepper in tin foil (e.g. all of the poblanos in one wrap–don’t want to jumble all of the different flavors together) and set this aside.
Now on to the chicken. Remove the giblets and work your fingers in and under the skin, separating it from the flesh without puncturing holes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix all of the rub ingredients and warm it up a little bit to melt the butter down just enough to allow you to mix this all together. This should smell spicy, savory, and delicious–you have dark, smoky flavors, rich tomato flavors, spice, and so on. Really simple to prepare and really strong in a good way. So now, rub all of this mixture in between the skin and the flesh of the chicken (the skin will help hold it on the meat and it will help crisp up the skin). Wipe your hands off on the outside of the bird. Sprinkle some salt and freshly ground pepper on top, and for the final step, slice a lime in half and stuff it inside the cavity. Place the bird in a roasting pan and set this in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (give or take–use a meat thermometer to know when its actually done), basting periodically after about 35 minutes have passed.
Also, place the wrapped, oiled peppers in the oven at the same time as when you start the chicken. Remove them from the oven somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour later, unwrap, and place in a loosely closed container for 2 minutes or so that they can steam a bit. This makes removing the skin and stem a lot easier (it practically takes itself off like a layer of old plastic wrap). Pull out the ribs and seeds and slice the peppers up into strips. Set this aside (in the container you just used)–you’ll use them as a topping when you assemble the burritos later.
So anyways, while you’re waiting on the chicken and the peppers to finish roasting, focus your attention on the mojo sauce. This sauce is mostly sweet, acidic, citrus flavors (not just the orange and lime, but that herby citrus you get from cilantro as well) which will also be spiced up with some chilis and given some more flavor backbone from garlic, shallot, and a pinch of adobo sauce. Simply dice up the garlic and shallots and sauté briefly in some oil. After 3 minutes or so, throw in the chilis as well to soften them up a bit. After another 2 minutes or so have passed, pour this into the food processor.
Add in all of the remaining ingredients (except for the Bay leaf) and puree the sauce thoroughly. Pour this in a saucepan (and now add in the Bay leaf), get it bubbling on medium heat, and then let simmer on medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove the Bay leaf once time is up.
While you’re waiting on the sauce (and chicken, peppers), get the rice and the black beans cooking (separately) as well. Nothing fancy here. Also peel, de-seed, and dice up the avocados (toss in a little lemon juice to keep them from browning). These are indeed all little things, but you want everything to be ready to go so you can wrap those burritos up quickly or else you’ll have a cold dinner.
So now, I’ll assume the chicken is done cooking (as well as everything else–rice is done, beans are done, avocado sliced, roasted peppers sliced). Get it on the cutting board, let it cool just enough so that you can handle it without burning yourself. Now go at it–tear every last bit of meat off of the bone. Chop it coarsely and tear it apart in your hands. Don’t worry about making pretty cuts and even sized pieces–just shred that bird up. Include the skin–this mix of white meat, dark meat, fat, and skin will make for a great mix of flavor and juiciness. Put all of the shredded chicken meat into the mojo saucepan and toss until all of the sauce is gone and the meat is pretty evenly coated. Put this back on the cutting board and divide into 8 evenly sized piles.
The end is near: time for the assembly line. If you can trick any unknowing kitchen stragglers into helping you for just one second with one small thing, this will go a lot quicker. 😉
Put a large pan on high heat. It should be large enough to hold a tortilla pretty close to flat. Put a tortilla on the heat (dry pan, no oil!), and after 20 seconds or so, flip it over and do the other side for just as long. Transfer this to a plate and start putting it together. Put ~1/8-1/4 cup of rice offset from the middle and spread it up and down in a column. Add a scoop of black beans over that, a small handful of roasted peppers, a small handful of chopped avocado, a small pile of chicken, and finally, a good handful of cheese.
I know…wow, look at that thing. If there’s anything else you want to get in there, go for it, but I can’t imagine where you’d put it. 😉 Now, carefully and tightly wrap this tortilla up, starting at the side where all the food is and rolling towards the emptier side of the tortilla, adjusting and packing the filling tighter as you roll. If you’re worried about the filling coming out, fold/crimp the ends shut. Now do this for the seven remaining tortillas. I wrapped the leftovers-to-be tightly in tinfoil (and later in the week, reheated them in the oven for about 20 minutes on 375?F).
I didn’t bother with any side dishes to go with this. There’s a lot in there and its pretty filling, but in a good way (plus, you’re getting all the protein, carbs, veggies, etc you could need!). I garnished with some salsa, sour cream, and cilantro, but it was really an excuse to taste a new salsa I jut got. 😉
So pop open a beer or pour out a margarita and enjoy!