I’m pretty sure my son’s the only kindergartener who takes a container of meat to school for lunch.
Yesterday I was cooking the meat for these beef and bean burritos when Hiro sauntered in nose-first. “That smells good Mama, can I have some for my lunch?” He asks. I thought about the logistics for a moment, fearing he wouldn’t be able to open the container, or that it would get cold by the time he got around to eating it, or worse, he’d get made fun of for having a tiny Tupperware of meat but then said, “I don’t have the rest of the burrito stuff ready, but I could put some meat in a container and you could eat it with a spoon?” “Thanks, Mama!” He said. And so it was, he took it. He ate it (the teacher did have to open the container for him) and what little was left he ate in the car on the way home from school. I don’t know why I worry.
It goes without saying that this beef and bean burrito recipe is kid approved.
Here’s how you make them!
First things first, make the filling. I loosely follow a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Best Mexican Recipes. If I’m feeling ambitious I’ll make Mexican rice instead of the garlic rice in the recipe. After your filling is ready to go then I feel it is essential to warm the tortillas in a hot, dry frying pan—not in the microwave. The pan lends a toasty flavor to the tortillas and the micro just makes them rubbery. You warm the tortillas because they need to be cooked a little before filling to get rid of that doughy flavor.
As far as the tortillas are concerned, I like to buy the extra-large (12-inch) flour tortillas that they use at the burrito truck. Most Latin markets sell them but most other grocery stores do not. Just buy the biggest ones you can find, but also know the big ones make HUGE burritos, so if you’re feeding little ones the smaller 8 or 10-inch ones are just fine.
After the tortillas are nice and toasty it is time to fill them up. The amount of filling you add will depend on how big you’d like your burrito to be. A hungry man burrito takes about 3/4 cup of beef and 3/4 cup of rice.
You can add other stuff to your burritos too, like cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa. We are a dairy-free house so I didn’t add any of the cheesy stuff and I don’t like hot guacamole so none of that inside my burrito either. Armando and Hiro like pico de gallo inside their burritos, but I do not. I think it makes the tortilla soggy and prefer to put mine on the outside, but it’s up to you.
Then its time to roll it up. Sides go in first, then the bottom goes over the filling.
Pull the tortilla tight over the filling then roll all the way up to seal.
The most essential step to a good burrito comes at the end. After you have rolled it up the burrito goes back in the hot, dry frying pan to get a nice, crispy crust. One that seals up the seam and turns that tortilla from rubbery to golden.
Don’t forget more fresh pico on top!
- 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 cup long-grain rice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 21 ounces 85 percent ground beef
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon chile powder (I used New Mexico chile powder, the recipe calls for chipotle--you decide)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (a 15-ounce can or cook your own )
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 6 flour tortillas (the biggest you can find, I used 12-inch)
- Pico de Gallo or your favorite store-bought salsa
- Bring chicken broth, rice, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes, fluff with fork, stir in cilantro and cover to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add beef, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, and chile powder. Cook, breaking up meat with the back of a wooden spoon and cook until beef is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Using a potato masher mash 1 cup of the beans in a bowl with 1/2 cup of the bean cooking liquid or the liquid from the can if you are using canned beans. Stir into the beef mixture along with remaining 1/2 cup whole beans and lime juice. Taste to see if it needs more salt then remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Warm the tortillas on both sides for a minute or two but not until they are toasted. Transfer to a baking sheet and mound about 3/4 cup beef and 3/4 cup rice in the bottom third of the tortillas. Add some pico de gallo if you'd like.
- Fold in the sides then roll the bottom of the tortilla over the filling, pulling back on it firmly to tighten it around the filling then roll the rest of the way up to close. Set seam side down on a tray. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
- Place burritos seam side down in a hot dry skillet to seal closed and get a nice golden crust. Flip and toast the other side. Serve immediately with pico de gallo or let cool and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. Burritos will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer and 5 days in the refrigerator.
- To rewarm: Unwrap burritos and place on a baking sheet if you are heating more than one or on a oven-safe frying pan for just one burrito. Heat in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.