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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Vieques: Burrito Birthday Bash

One of the reasons we visit Vieques each year when we do is that our dear friend NG has her birthday in early April. Being one who appreciates life's simply pleasures (not that she doesn't also enjoy the finer things!) she asked us if we'd make burritos for her birthday party. And of course, we were more than happy to oblige!
Our first challenge became figuring out how to stretch our recipe (which really was only committed to memory, not paper) to feed about 15 folks.
A precision sortie to Morales (yes, we know you're sick of hearing that name!) netted all that we needed. Since the tortillas come in packages of 10, and considering that in the past we've had requests we were unable to fulfill for seconds, we decided to just go ahead & make 20.
Our next challenge was our facilities. Our digs come equipped with a bar fridge & a 2 burner gas cooktop. Not exactly up to the task of supporting a small burrito factory! Fortunately, we were able to press the birthday girl's ample kitchen into service.

The operation began the day before the birthday with the preparation of the filling. First, lots of slicing & dicing.

1. chopped onion, garlic, cubanelle pepper,
and pimento- stuffed green olives.
2. dicing chorizo sausage
Next the cooking began. The ground meats were added after the chopped vegetables had sautéed briefly.

3. the big "Wolf" range gets pressed into service. Ya, Baby!!

4. The filling sauce is ready (this was about half the total made)
The filling chilled overnight and we assembled the burritos on the morning of the party.

5. a couple of generous tablespoons of sauce are placed onto the tortilla. We also added a couple of pieces of Jack cheese into each, plus some chopped fresh cilantro. Both additions are completely optional & aren't included in the recipe at the bottom of the post.
6. the assembly progresses...
7. ...and is finally complete
After the 20 tortillas had been assembled, we topped the trays with grated Jack cheese & popped them into the fridge for the rest of the day.

8. Later that evening, ready for baking

Late in the afternoon, the party prep swung into action.

9. our little assembly line
10. Jeanne prepares the hors d'oeuvres

Glen & Alex brought salad & desert

11. Can you tell these guys are in the catering business?
12. ...and Glen's pretty handy with scissors & a vase (don't worry, John, things grow back really fast on Vieques!)
13. getting the hors d'oevres table ready...
14. ...and the table set

15. the guests begin to arrive

16. salad ready to be plated
The boys whipped together their delicious salad, the burritos came out of the oven, and a frenzy of plating ensued.

17. dishin' up the main course

The evening was filled with good conversation, ample libation, & fortunately, plenty of food.

18. An animated table

19. Alex's delectable white chocolate mousse

20. sharing the many laughs
The birthday party was one fun evening! We're sure there were a few Advils popped the next morning!


So, we've decided it's time to commit this dish to writing.
(Warning- this is all from memory & measures are approximate. The recipe should make six burritos)

Burrito Recipe:
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 med onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cubanelle pepper, finely chopped
1 chorizo sausage, finely chopped
half of 1- 250 ml (8 oz) jar of green olives (pimento stuffed), drained
1- 220 ml (8 oz) can of Mexican salsa roja*
half of 1- 400 ml (14 oz) can of black beans, drained & well rinsed

*Salsa Roja is a basic red salsa. In our opinion, only Mexican salsa has the balance of flavours we're looking for- smoky chile essence, cilantro, not too much tomato. American & Canadian salsas are usually too vinegary, too thick, rarely contain cilantro, and usually taste kid of "ketchup-y". Goya has a good "Pico de Gallo" which is a little chunkier than salsa roja but otherwise tastes the same. It works perfectly well. Other brands to look for are Herdez and San Marcos.

6 soft tortillas, large size (approx 10" dia)
1 or 2 jalapeño peppers (according to your tolerance for heat), very finely diced
150 g of Monterey Jack cheese, grated

For serving:
Mexican salsa roja
sour cream
fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Optional condiments:
salsa verde
pickled jalapeños
more finely diced raw jalapeño pepper

Start by preparing the filling. Sauté the onion till starting to turn golden. Add in the chorizo & cubanelle & continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the ground meats & brown. Throw in the garlic & sauté for a few seconds, being careful not to let it brown, then add the salsa, olives, & black beans. Cook over medium heat till the flavours are well blended, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, then refrigerate for at least an hour. Season to taste if required. (if you prepare this a day in advance the flavours will develop really nicely)

Preheat the oven to 350.
To assemble, place a couple of tablespoons of filling off center in a tortilla (see pic 5 above), sprinkle with a small amount of the diced jalapeño, and fold. Fill & wrap all the tortillas, placing them onto a baking sheet. (Note: any "surplus" burritos can be frozen at this point). Top them with the grated Jack cheese & bake for 15- 20 minutes, till thoroughly heated through. Keep an eye on them to make sure the cheese doesn't burn. Serve immediately, topping each with a generous dollop of sour cream, a couple of tablespoons of salsa, & a "BAM" of chopped cilantro. Add other condiments as you please.

We'd serve this with a light salad, probably with an element that introduces a little crunch (like jicima). A napa cabbage slaw would work well. Take the vinaigrette in a simpatico direction by introducing a little lime or orange into the acid component.

¡Buen Provecho!

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