Restaurant style burritos- a simple trick.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mdboatbum, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm a sucker for a good burrito. Actually any burrito. From 7-11's "The Bomb" to authentic Tex Mex restaurants, I love 'em all. Trouble is, even though I consider myself to be a fairly able cook, my attempts at making burritos in my own kitchen have left me wondering just what sort of magical voodoo is employed by commercial kitchens to give them that certain something that mine always lacked. I used good ingredients, all manner of tortillas from home made, to packaged store bought to ones I got from the very restaurant whose burritos I was trying to emulate. Mine were always off, and they always fell apart.
    Then one day I peerred behind the curtain at a certain nation wide el cheap taco joint and noticed the lady making the burritos placing the tortilla in what appeared to be a toaster oven. I'd tried heating them in a pan, in the oven and even in a toaster oven. It was when she retrieved the tortilla that the light went on in my tiny brain. A puff of STEAM arose from the contraption when she opened the lid. Could it be that simple?
    I couldn't wait to try it out. It turns out, THAT WAS IT!! My burritos now had that undefinable something. The texture is perfect and they hold together. Rather than just making them warm and wet, the steam actually changes the entire texture of the tortilla. What was dry and fragile is now moist, elastic and pliable. Rather than just wrapping around the fillings, it brings everything together into a cohesive entity. Yes, I know I sound like a raving lunatic, but try it yourself, you'll be amazed at the difference.
    Now here's my version of the burritos from another national chain named after a smoked jalapeño.
    Start with your meat. I'm using grilled chicken breast seasoned with cumin, garlic and chili powder, but anything will do. Pulled pork would be incredible.

    Next is the cilantro lime rice. This is leftover from last nights dinner so not a very good pic. Just make a batch of plain white rice. Once it's done add salt to taste, chopped fresh cilantro and the juice of one lime. It's stupid simple, and really tasty.

    Next you steam your tortilla. I just but a basket strainer in a pan with about an inch of simmering water. The strainer holds the tortilla above the water. Steam for about 45 seconds, flip over and another 30 seconds and it's ready to go. You can see in the pic on the plate how it's now translucent. The pattern on the plate shows through.

    Now just pile on the toppings and wrap it all up. Here I used the chicken, rice, shredded smoked Gouda, guacamole and salsa.

    I usually wrap them in parchment and put them in the steamer if I'm making a few. This keeps them hot and you can just put the tortilla right on top of them to steam. Plus it's kinda fun for everyone to unwrap their own.

    So there you have it. Restaurant burritos at home.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yep that's how the best ones are made! We have place here that is famous for their burritos, even have a jambalaya burrito! Anyways you order at one end of the prep area and walk down the line to the Cash register. You see the whole prep. First thing they do is steam the tortillas.
  3. slysmoke

    slysmoke Smoke Blower

    Cool pics. Your burrito passion is clearly evident.

    Your method probably gets better results, but for quick and dirty I've had decent luck with putting the tortilla in a slightly damp dish towel and popping it in the microwave for 10 or 15 seconds.

    Now I need a burrito ☺
  4. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Great post Boatbum!  Proves that it is often the simplest tricks that make for the best results!  Your burritos look and sound mighty tasty!  [​IMG]

  5. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks guys. I guess most people probably have known this for years, but it just never dawned on me. I've even worked in a tex mex joint and a southwestern place, but not in the kitchen at either place. Anyway I'm just glad I finally figured it out.
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    We use our bamboo steamer and then put them in an 10" imusa tortilla steamer that we got from a local Hispanic store for $5.00. It's one of those round tortilla boxes your tortillas come in when you order fajitas. Keeps them ply able without getting over soggy while you prep the burritos.
  7. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    There's ALWAYS a 'trick'....LOL.....I'll spend 15 minutes just going through the stacks of tortillas until I find the perfect 'freshest' batch. Never take right off the top of the stack. Like a poster mentioned above with the dishtowel.....a damp paper towel around 2-3 torts works well also. Arbys 'steams' their buns for a couple of seconds before piling on that 'meat'....makes it just the right consistency when you take a big bite. Other joints will flop the bun on the flat top for a few seconds and a comal makes for a fine tortilla as well....enjoy
  8. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The microwave and damp towel idea makes sense. Unfortunately we don't have a microwave. Ours died about 3 years ago and I convinced my wife to try life without one for a few months. We've just never gotten around to getting another one. Other than popcorn and quickly heating leftovers, I can't say we've really missed it.
  9. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    This was a really awesome post but for some reason the pictures didn't load on my ipad. I too am always trying to replicate the perfect burrito and it never matches up. I applaud your passion and I am going to have to try this out.
  10. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Try refreshing. There were issues with pics earlier but they seem to have ironed them out.
  11. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like a great idea, MD. I will definitely give it a try!

  12. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great tip. Thumbs Up

    Love me some burritos. I will still get the cheap bulk packs for at home and smother them in cheese.

    Also if you want to make sandwich wraps. If you warm the tortilla just before you make it, you run a less chance of busting the seems.
  13. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    here's another way... spread a thin film of butter on each one and then stack them... wrap the stack in foil and put in a 225` oven until warmed through...
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  14. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks Disco, such a silly little thing but I think it makes a huge difference.

    That made me laugh Jarjar. My wife loves to have the frozen ones on hand. She too loves to smother them with cheese. Maybe I should make up a bunch and freeze them. Hmmm...

    Interesting idea. I'll have to try that. One of the restaurants I worked in used to serve warm flour tortillas with 2 different kinds of compound butter on the side. If I remember correctly they were honey sage flavor and chipotle flavor. They were pretty good!
  15. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Nice tip Boatbum I like a Borrito now and then.

    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  16. wolfman1955

    wolfman1955 Master of the Pit

    So thats how they do in Great tip!!
  17. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yep. That's what we do, only with wet paper towels.

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