Making better burritos

February 09, 1992|By Karol V. Menzie

"The main thing to remember," says P. J. Birosik in "The Burrito Book," "is that the best burrito is a perfect amalgam of sauce (salsa or mole) and "dry" ingredients (meat, beans, grains, etc.) heated (or chilled) to the optimum temperature."

While there is no wrong way to make a burrito, she says, "some sure do taste better than others."

Here's a selection of recipes that can turn a feast into a fiesta. If you want to simplify, serve a single entree.

Pepper steak burrito with Roquefort garnish

Makes 12 burritos.

10 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter

3 tablespoons sour cream

8 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 tablespoons minced chives

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons steak sauce (A-1 is a good choice)

2 porterhouse steaks, 12 to 14 ounces each

4 tablespoons peppercorns

2 medium onions, sliced and pushed into rings

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup red wine (cabernet sauvignon is good)

1 teaspoon flour

12 flour tortillas, warmed

Combine 6 tablespoons butter with the next three ingredients in a small mixing bowl, beat with spoon until thoroughly blended; set aside. In another small mixing bowl, combine garlic, salt and steak sauce. Brush one half of sauce over tops of steaks. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of peppercorns onto tops of steaks and press in firmly with fingers or mallet (use mallet gently or sauce will splatter). Turn steaks over and repeat process; meat should now be covered with sauce and peppercorns.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat; add onions and mushrooms and fry until onions are golden brown. Using slotted spoon, remove onions and mushrooms and drain on paper towels; cover to keep warm.

Lower heat to medium and melt 2 tablespoons butter; gently place steaks in pan so that peppercorns do not fall off and fry to desired degree of doneness (medium-rare works best). Remove steaks from pan and transfer to cutting board; sliver steaks and cover with foil to keep warm. Return onions and mushrooms to frying pan and add wine; turn up heat and boil 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced slightly. In small bowl, mash together remaining 1 teaspoon butter with flour, then add to frying pan, stirring constantly until it has been absorbed and sauce starts to thicken. Continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes, until sauce is thick.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place steak slices on tortillas; using spoon, add onion-mushroom sauce. Fold classic style and place seam side down in baking dish. Dot each burrito with Roquefort cheese mixture and place in oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese mixture is slightly runny. Serve immediately.

Basic Spanish rice

Makes 3 cups.

4 medium tomatoes, quartered

2 1/4 cups water

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup brown rice

2 chicken bouillon cubes

2 teaspoons garlic paste

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

5 drops Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon molasses

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup canned tomato sauce

6 slices bacon

1/2 large green pepper, diced

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place quartered tomatoes and water in blender jar; puree. Pour into large pot, add onion and boil. Add rice, bouillon cubes, garlic paste, salt, Tabasco and molasses. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until rice has absorbed almost all the water (usually 40 45 minutes). Add chopped tomatoes, parsley and tomato sauce, stir well and cover. Fry bacon crisp in skillet; remove and blot on paper towels. Saute green pepper in bacon drippings; remove using slotted spoon and add to rice mixture. Crumble bacon and add to rice mixture. Mix well and remove from heat.

Lightly oil bottom of 1-quart casserole; pour rice mixture into it and bake for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Curried burger burritos

Makes 8 burritos.

1 cup wild rice

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 pound ground beef

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 teaspoons curry powder

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cumin

4-ounce can tomato paste

1 1/2 cups water

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

corn kernels from 1 fresh cob

8 large whole-wheat (or plain) tortillas, warmed

Rinse rice well. Boil, uncovered, in an unlimited amount of water until kernels have a nutlike flavor and chewy texture, about 1 1/2 hours. Set aside.

Saute onion and ground beef in oil until lightly browned. Drain and discard fat. Add curry powder, garlic, cumin, tomato paste, water and tomatoes. Simmer 15 minutes, or until tomatoes are mushy. Add seeds, peanuts and corn; simmer 5 minutes, then cover and turn off heat. Reheat rice (if prepared earlier and refrigerated) in oven or microwave. Spoon equal portions of rice and curried meat onto each tortilla. Use pocket-square fold and serve immediately.

You can add 2 teaspoons of aged Baltimore chutney to each burrito prior to folding. Ms. Birosik's roommate is from Baltimore, and the recipe is from the roommate's mother, Mrs. Theresa


Aged Baltimore chutney

Makes 4 two-pint jars of chutney.

8 cups diced tomatoes

1 cup diced celery

4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons allspice

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