Friday, February 13, 2009

Gotta love those little donkeys

I'm kind of dating myself here, but in the early 1980's, there was a place on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard in Clearwater called Naugles that made the best burritos I have ever eaten. My favorite was the Macho Beef Burrito with sour cream, black olives and a mountain of cheddar cheese. The thing was immense.

When a craving for one of those beauties called, it was impossible to resist. Unfortunately, the chain only lasted from 1970 to 1988 and it was a sad day for me when they closed. The next best thing was a place called Mexico Grande on Highland Avenue, and their burritos were good, but sadly, not the same. I still haven't found a recipe that even comes close to replicating the venerable burritos of my past, but these are pretty darn good.

The method for making these is a little unusual because you don't brown the meat. The ground beef is combined with a can of refried beans, water and spices and simmered slowly for an hour or so. The result is a filling that has a texture that's hard to describe but much better for burritos than the typical taco meat.

It's tempting to just grab a package of ground beef or ground chuck at the supermarket but, do your arteries a favor and grind your own meat. I'm notorious for reading the labels on everything and when I noticed that the packages of ground chuck stated they contained a whopping 35 percent fat, I was flabbergasted. It really bothers me to pay for 35 percent of something I am going to end up pouring down the drain. I know you can buy the stuff labled "lean" or "extra lean" but it doesn't have a whole lot of flavor.

Ever since I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair when I was 9 I have been suspicious of meat products I can't personally identify. Grinding my own meat offers two big plusses for me. 1) I know what's in it. 2) I can control the quality and fat content of what I am putting in my mouth.

If you want ground chuck, buy chuck steak or a chuck roast and do it yourself. It takes about 10 minutes to trim off all of the fat and connective tissue and grind it in a food processor. Just remember to buy a little more meat than the recipe calls for because you will lose some of that in the trimming.

One thing I can't live without is my food scale. They are inexpensive and make it easy to know how much meat you have left after grinding .

Burrito filling:

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 (16 ounce) can old el paso refried beans

3 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs ground cumin

2 Tbs dried minced onion

1 tsp garlic powder

1 beef boullion cube

1 1/2 cups water


Thoroughly combine uncooked ground beef, refried beans, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, minced onion, bullion cube and water.

Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover and continue to simmer until liquid is reduced and mixture is thick. This usually takes another 20 minutes or so.

Be careful when stirring this stuff it bubbles up like lava.

To make the burritos, spread a spoonful of the meat and bean mixture on a warm large flour tortilla. Top with shredded lettuce, salsa or diced tomatoes with green chilies, cheese, black olives, sour cream or whater ever else you like. By request, I made baked rice with green chilies to go with them last night.

Baked Rice with Green Chilies:

3 cups cooked rice (i cup raw rice, two cups water)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese or monterey jack pepper cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1-2 teaspoon chili powder
2 cans chopped green chilies, drained


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all ingredients in an ungreased 2 quart casserole.
Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until heated through.


Emily said...

The next time you make this, make it with the Indian Fry Bread and throw that recipe up there. That fry bread is awesome.

This post makes me hungry, and I just ate lunch...

Jill said...

I love fry bread! I was thinking the same ting but didn't feel like making them (it's more fun when you are here doing it with me) so I just got the tortillas. One of there days, I am going to buy a tortilla press and make my own.