The first time I had a Burrito, was at Chiquitos in London back in the early 1990s. I thought it was amazing and one of the best things I had eaten. This belief was shattered within minutes after I tasted one in Texas and then in California. I do still love my Burritos from Mucho Burritos, and the Burrito Boyz in Toronto, but there is something to be said about the homemade spicy Chicken Burrito. It is never the same again! I adore repurposing leftovers and creating new things from them, and this is one of my favourite ways.
Origin: Its definitely Northern Mexico, possibly Chihuhua, but there’s lots of different stories about where they originated from.
One story is, Juan Mendez, who had a small food business near Chihuahua started wrapping food in a large tortilla to keep it warm, and delivered it on a donkey to neighbouring towns by the border in or about 1910, hence the reference to a Burro (donkey).
However, the story that I find more convincing is that it was a way a filling, usually consisting of leftovers was wrapped in a large tortilla and then a napkin, by field workers to help them carry their food comfortably and safely when they worked in the fields. An almost similar historical reference as that of a Cornish pasty, which was created by the miner’s wives to help them transport their food in a compact manner. Whatever the origins, it is impossible to find the perfect original burrito, as the ones in Texas are amazingly different from the ones you would find across California. I am not even going to refer to the ones I tasted at Chiquitos in London, as that seems to be a story bygone for me, but I love the fact that its something that can be made individual to the person eating it. Its the perfect food to eat on the go, hence the popularity of the Chipotle chain in the US and it can be quite healthy too.
My version here, is a non-traditional version. It is made with a leftover chicken curry and it’s one of my favourite burritos, made at home.
It is near impossible to just make one burrito, so I make them in a batch (pack of 10) and freeze them for later use. I will explain below how to freeze them, as they do freeze well but need to be wrapped carefully.
Spicy Chicken Burritos (makes about 10)
2 cups leftover chicken curry, with some of the gravy
2-3 cups cooked rice (adjust according to taste) – I like using cumin rice
1 thinly sliced red onion – season with salt, and juice of 1 lime
1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly (julienne style)
1/2 red pepper, sliced thinly (julienne style)
1 cup canned kidney beans – I like to cook mine with salt, pepper, a finely chopped green chilli and some garlic cloves
1 cup natural yogurt – season with salt, black pepper, zest of 1 lime
some fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
some mint chutney or salsa, or hot sauce – your choice, whatever is at hand (depends on how spicy the curry is too)
1. Warm the tortilla slightly on a warm skillet to soften it only.
2. Spread it flat on the work surface and assemble ingredients in the centre of the flat tortilla, to your taste.
3. Do not be tempted to over stuff, it doesn’t do well. Be a little stingy with the ingredients on the first one, until you get the hang of it.
4. Wrap it into a parcel, tucking in the sides and rolling it. It will be round at the centre at first. That’s ok.
5. Place the fold side down, onto the skillet on low/medium heat. I like to put something heavy on top to help hold it in place, whilst I work on the next burrito. It takes 2-3 minutes to get light brown and for it to seal the fold so it doesn’t open up. Make sure the heat is not too high, or the tortilla will burn and the ingredients inside will not get warmed up enough to combine well in the burrito. Lower heat works better.
6. Turn it over, and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes until its browned on both sides. Cut in half before serving – its easier to eat.
Serve with a nice crunchy salad and some corn on the cob.
Cook the burritos as above. Let them cool down to room temperature.
Wrap them in cling wrap first. I like to do it twice. Then I wrap them in some foil and I label them if they are individual ones with special preferences for someone. I separate the child friendly ones usually as they don’t have the hot sauce and no onions.
Then, put them in a large food bag, and freeze. They stay good for 6-8 weeks at least. In our house they have never lasted that long as they get consumed much sooner.
To reheat – either let them rest in the fridge overnight, which is the best and the next day I just heat them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until we are ready to eat and they are nice and crispy.