There is something magical about a burrito, that combination of crispy tortilla edges that turn doughy soft at the centre, all concealing a delicious blend of beans and meat and melted cheese. Splash that sucker with some salsa, sour cream, perhaps a spoonful of guacamole, and that's a pillow of perfection on your plate.
Usually, a burrito makes a meal. But for my Super Bowl party, I decided to turn the dish into a finger food. Using smaller flour tortillas, I rolled up an army of burritos filled with refried beans, ground beef and cheese. Once you have your ingredients arranged, the rest of the prep is easy. The burritos also can be assembled in the morning, arranged in the pan, then refrigerated until ready to bake and serve.
Want to make these vegetarian? You can simply leave out the ground beef (make sure you buy vegetarian refried beans) or substitute cooked rice. You can add vegetables, such as onions or mushrooms, but you'll need to saute them first, otherwise they won't have time to cook in the oven (and will make your burritos soggy).
BEAN AND BEEF BURRITOS
Be sure to let your tortillas warm to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. Cold tortillas will crack and split when you try to roll them. Alternatively, you can wrap them in foil and heat them in the oven for a few minutes, or until softened but not toasted.
Start to finish: 30 minutes (15 minutes active)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and ground black pepper
Eight 8-inch flour tortillas, room temperature
15-ounce can refried beans
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Salsa, to serve
Guacamole, to serve
Heat the oven to 400 F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and saute, breaking it up, until browned, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle in the chili powder, then stir well. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside off the heat.
One at a time, lay a tortilla flat on the counter. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the refried beans evenly over the entire surface of the tortilla. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the ground beef mixture in a line near the edge of the tortilla closest to you, then top that with about 1 tablespoon cheese.
To fold the burrito, start with the edge closest to you, lifting it and rolling it toward the centre. Halfway into the roll, fold both sides toward the centre and over the rolled bottom edge. Now continue rolling the bottom until the burrito is fully formed as a log. The refried beans should hold the burrito together. Place the burrito in the prepared pan, then repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the tops of the burritos, then bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges. Serve with salsa and guacamole on the side for dipping.
Nutrition information per serving: 370 calories; 160 calories from fat (43 per cent of total calories); 18 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 50 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 21 g protein; 660 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org