A finicky guy's exploits in finding gustatory (and other) satisfaction in his kitchen, his neighborhood, and beyond.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cold-weather heater-upper: Brrrr - itos

¡Olé!  I managed to create a dish using my leftover pinto beans that transformed them into something completely new and unrecognizable.  ¡Cool!

Actually, warm.  For dinner last night, at 7:30 following my last voice student of the day, we had pinto bean & ham burritos that were quick, easy, and delicious — and warming.  During a break earlier in the day, I started dinner preparations by grinding homegrown whole wheat into flour, then forming it into tortillas, which I cooked on a heated cast-iron griddle, singing traditional Mexican canzones de tortilla all the while.   Or maybe I just opened a package from Whole Foods — I really can't remember the details after such a busy day.

I wanted to add some cheese to make a nice melty layer inside the tortillas, so I grated the only hard cheese I had on hand, which was a drunken goat, which luckily has a pungent flavor strong enough to stand up to the smoky ham.

I also wanted something to provide a crunch — I prefer a burrito that's not monotonously gooey throughout — so I made up a little cole slaw with the last few remaining red cabbage leaves in the fridge.  I chopped these and added to them a small grated carrot, a little fresh thyme, a grated garlic clove, and a little salt and pepper.  This little bit of salad rolled up with the triple proteins of bean, ham, and cheese may not exactly have fulfilled our vegetable quotient for the day, but it did supply the needed textural contrast — and some delightfully bright colors!

An additional bright color and a hefty kick in the ass came from this hot hot hot sauce left over from our last Vietnamese take-out.  Peter usually finds sauces like this too spicy for his delicate palate, and I will likely regret adding it, though the negative effects will not arrive until later (please do not ask for further clarification), but I am a masochist when it comes to hot condiments, so on my burrito it went.  [Post-dinner update: Surprisingly, Peter availed himself of hot sauce too.]

This fresh and pleasantly bitter organic ale helped to extinguish the fire in our mouths.

Here's the assembled burrito before rolling up:

I was excited to have created this dish, which was unlike anything I've ever cooked before.  The slow-cooker is having the culinary-envelope-expanding effect I'd hoped for!

There's a bit more of the non-frozen pinto beans left in the fridge, which we're going to have for lunch tomorrow prepared in the manner preferred by the father of one of my readers: over cornbread with diced raw onion.  We'll probably toss on some cilantro as well (tomorrow's vegetable quotient).



  1. Michael, please eat your vegetables. You need 5 servings a day. A serving is I cup of raw or a half cup of cooked vegetables. And 2 servings of fruit. Wine doesn't count as fruit.

  2. But beer is a vegetable, isn't it?

    Oh, wait - it's a grain. My mistake.

  3. Thanks for the motherly, Mae-therly advice! I can make jokes about this topic because we habitually eat a ridiculous amount of fruit and vegetables in this house. (Particularly during the local growing season, but all year round as well.) If anything, I sometimes get too much vegetation in my diet!

    Wine doesn't count as fruit? Say it isn't so!

  4. @birdmommy: If your beer contains a lot of hops, then it counts as a small salad as well.

  5. Someone, sometime, told my sister that a beer is the nutritional equivalent of 2 pork chops and she sticks steadfastly to this theory.

  6. I always have tortillas on hand because even when I don't feel like cooking, fajitas are fast and tasty and make it seem like I actually spent time on a meal. ;-) Your burritos would be a big hit here! Love the coleslaw addition.

  7. Hey, you made the same psychedelic salad as I did! Isn't it gloriously lurid?

  8. Yes! And if I ever start a rock band, I'm going to name it "Gloriously Lurid."

  9. Oh phooey, I really wanted to know how you grew homegrown wheat in a NYC apartment.

    Sounds delicious! My kids adore various tortilla wrapped things, so handy for family food.

  10. I have just about given up on balcony farming. We just don't get enough direct sun to grow foods, other than some herbs. I manage to put together a pretty nice garden out there every summer, though, and I'll put some pix up when I begin this year's planting.

    Don't expect wheat, but you might see some awfully nice jasmine and nasturtiums.