Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Burrito Bowls

There was one day when I was at Maryland that I had almost no food left except chicken, rice, an avocado, a tomato, a bit of corn, onions, sour cream, and some cheese. We must have been close to a break or something, so I was down to my last bit of food. I think it was fate, and I heeded the sign and made some burrito bowls. I knew they'd be good because it's hard to go wrong with those ingredients, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I found myself wanting leftovers, which is rare. I normally hate leftovers. Food is just so much less exciting the second time around. Something is lost when you reheat it. But I digress.

I love this recipe because it's barely even a recipe. Don't have tomatoes? No problem. Pinto beans? Chuck 'em in there. Just about anything goes. The way I usually make it does have a lot of steps, but I promise none of them are difficult, and it's so worth it. Ready to go? Grab whatever vaguely burrito-related ingredients you have, and start with the rice first.

Then thinly slice your onions. We want to maximize surface area here because we're going to caramelize these. As I learned in the cooking class I went to this summer, when you caramelize, you should be starting with a cold pan, cold vegetables, and cold fat. Caramelization is a gradual process, so you want to heat things slowly.

Eventually, your corn and onions will get nice and browned, and they'll be ready to go. While that's all cooking, cook and shred your chicken, whip up a quick guacamole, drain and rinse your beans, and mix up your sour cream.

 Dig in.

Not pictured: the beans that I drained and forgot to put in my bowl. Alas.

Burrito Bowls
Yield: 3-4 servings

1 cup uncooked rice (I used brown)
A few tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts, sliced in half parallel to the cutting board
1.5-2 tsp cumin, divided and to taste
Salt & pepper
2 avocados
1 vine ripened tomato1
1 lemon quarter

1 15 oz. can black beans
For serving (optional): shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese, cumin-lime sour cream (recipe follows), thinly sliced scallion greens

  1. Cook the rice according to pack directions.
  2. While the rice cooks, cut the onion in half lengthwise through the root end. Thinly slice the onion crosswise.
  3. Add about a tbsp of olive oil, the onion, and the corn to a wide skillet set over medium heat. Cook, stirring infrequently, until the vegetables start to brown. Season with salt and pepper and add most of the garlic. Continue cooking until the onions are deep brown and the corn has gained some color. Set aside in a bowl.
  4. After putting the onions on the heat, season the chicken with the cumin, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  5. When the onions are done cooking, place the pan back on medium heat with another tbsp of olive oil2.  Once it's hot, add the chicken and cook, turning once, until cooked through.
  6. Mash the avocado and cut the tomato into small dice. Mix together with the juice of the lemon quarter, the remaining garlic, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  7. Drain and rinse the beans, and set aside.
  8. Shred the chicken and assemble bowls, garnishing as desired.
Cumin-Lime Sour Cream:
Adapted from smitten kitchen

1 lime3
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 tsp cumin
Pinch of salt

Zest and juice the lime. Mix the juice and a pinch of zest with the sour cream, cumin, and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings.

  1. You can use any variety of tomato you'd like. I included this just to give a rough estimate of quantity.
  2. Yes, you should probably wipe out the pan first. That really just felt like too much work, though.
  3. Years ago, my mom taught me that the secret to finding juicy citrus is to choose fruits that are heavy for their size (thanks, Mom!). Roll the lime between the palm of your hand and the counter before cutting and juicing to make juicing (much) easier.

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