Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chili verdirojo burrito, old school tortillas

What do you call it when you replace the tomatillos in a chili verde with red tomatoes, but leave the green chilies? It's not really chili verde, since in addition to be sin tomatillos, the other spices are different - no cilantro, for example. Nor is it chili colorado since no dried peppers are used. Whatever it is, it tastes good.

My idea came from a restaurant that makes this stuff, but they call it chili verde. Theirs is more chili anaranjado than verde, thanks to the tomatoes. 

The nice thing is that I didn't have to sneak into their kitchen disguised as a giant piñata to pilfer their secret recipe. They pretty much gave away their process on a food show, right in front of the camera. Then I thought of some tweaks. Cook the meat differently. Use frozen Hatch chilis instead of canned, play with the seasonings...

Now, if I'm ever tempted to open a Mexican restaurant I've got a good, scalable recipe that will work for any color of chili.

Since I'd fussed around making the meat, I decided to go whole hog and make a burrito from scratch. That meant tortillas, too. Old school tortillas, the kind they used to make before people became more afraid of rendered fat than chemical additives*.

Yes, old school. Unbleached enriched wheat flour, salt, baking powder, pork fat.

I don't really get the hypocrisy about tortillas and pork fat. Somehow, it's healthy if there's no pork fat in the tortilla, even if it's wrapped around fatty morsels of carnitas. So, the pork fat is OK when it's in the meat, but put it in the tortilla and it's taboo?

These are my tortillas, from scratch, my way. No canola oil here! I just took the fat that rendered out of the meat during cooking and set it aside. When it was time to make the tortillas, it was cooled down and ready to go. Mix salt and baking powder with flour, cut in the fat, add enough water to create some non-sticky dough, give it a rest, and it's ready to go.

So, the verdict? Was there a flavor payoff? Yes. There really is nothing like slow-cooked pork wrapped in a porky tortilla accented with savory avocado slices. The white rice was there to soak up the sauce, and because I wanted to highlight the flavor of the meat with something neutral.

* commercial flour tortilla ingredient lists can be long and difficult to pronounce: enriched bleached wheat flour, water, salt, palm oil and fractions with BHT, BHA and TBHQ (preservatives), rice flour, mono & diglycerides, fumaric acid, calcium propionate, potassium sorbet (preservatives again), methyl and propyl paraben (preservatives again), sodium meta bisulfite. Oops, that's potassium sorbate. Good. That would have made a horrible dessert.

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