Friday, March 8, 2013

Chipotle at Home - Burrito Bowls!

My favorite fast-food restaurant is Chipotle. If you don't have a Chipotle near you, I would like to offer my condolences. Have you considered moving? Because it would be worth it. I absolutely love the fresh flavor of everything offered at Chipotle - from their meats, to the grilled veggies, to the salsas. And the cilantro lime rice is to die for.

About once or twice a month, I serve what we have come to call "Chipotle at Home." It is a family favorite, and heaven forbid I serve it on a night that someone in the family isn't home and they miss out. I prepare chicken fajitas with sauteed peppers, cilantro-lime rice (unbelievably easy to re-create), beans, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, chopped lettuce - and if I'm in an especially fabulous mood, some homemade flour tortillas.

I set everything out, buffet-style, for my family to each pick and choose exactly what they want to put in their own "burrito bowls." I do not claim my food tastes just like Chipotle's (except the cilantro lime rice is pretty darn close) - I just like their idea of personal, assembly-line burrito bowls, and that is the concept I use when I put "Chipotle at Home" on our dinner menu.

How to have your own "Chipotle at Home" night  

Cilantro-Lime Rice: In a rice cooker or on the stove, start a pot of salted, plain, white rice. When the rice is ready, keep it warm until serving time. Just before serving, stir in fresh-squeezed lime juice and chopped cilantro. That's it!

My grandmother's juicer - she had it since she was a young newlywed in the 1930's - and gave it to me about 10 years ago. I love it!

Pico de gallo: Combine 3 chopped Roma tomatoes, 1 chopped yellow onion, and a "handful" of chopped cilantro. Stir in some chopped jalapeno peppers - the amount depending on how much heat you want - and salt to taste. I usually use 2 ripened jalapeno peppers - unseeded. We like our food hot. Important: Chop by hand! Do not put pico de gallo ingredients into a food processor. 

Guacamole: Mash 1 or 2 ripe Haas avocados with a fork or potato masher. Never, ever use a food processor to make guacamole. That is just gross. I have very strong feelings about smooth guacamole. It should be slightly chunky, trust me on this. Stir in about 2-3 tablespoons of the pico de gallo, and some salt and pepper to taste. You can also stir in a little lime juice if you like, but I personally don't like the taste of lemon or lime in my guacamole because I think it covers up the flavor of the avocado. If it's consumed within the next 2 hours, it will not turn brown. Cover tightly and chill until serving time.

Make the Beans: Open a couple cans of pinto or black beans, drain, and rinse in a colander. Dump into a pan and add 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, plus about 1 teaspoon of the sauce, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, give it a stir, then cover and reduce heat to low, and slowly simmer while you prepare the other food. Before serving, add salt to taste.

Spruce up plain pinto beans with the addition of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce! They make the beans taste amazing.

Chicken & Veggies: Thinly slice a yellow onion, a red pepper, and a green pepper, and set aside.

Slice 4-5 skinless, boneless chicken breast very thinly into strips. Hint: partially frozen chicken breast is much easier to slice than completely thawed chicken breast.

 Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sliced chicken, sprinkle with fajita seasoning, and add 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the chipotle peppers. Give it all a stir, and then cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked thoroughly. 

After the chicken has cooked, remove the lid, turn heat to high, and allow all liquid to evaporate. Stir and cook until chicken starts to brown.

Add vegetables and continue to cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables and chicken just start to smoke and char slightly. Remove from heat. Vegetables should be crisp-tender.

Of course, the chicken and vegetables can also be cooked separately, in case someone in the family wants a vegetarian burrito bowl. Just cook the chicken on high until it starts to get a little blackened; remove from skillet and keep warm on a hot plate in the oven. Add a little more oil to the skillet and throw in vegetables. Add a bit of chipotle sauce for flavor. Cook on high, stirring and flipping frequently, until slightly charred, but still crisp-tender.

Other things to serve:
Shredded Cheese: I like to serve sharp cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese.

Sour Cream: To make sour cream thinner like Chipotle's, just whisk in a couple tablespoons of milk.

Lettuce:  Thinly slice crisp lettuce, like iceberg or heart of Romaine.

It's serving time!

Set everything out buffet-style like Chipotle's assembly line: Start with a stack of empty bowls for self-serving, then the tortillas (if serving), cilantro-lime rice, black beans, the chicken and veggies, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and chopped lettuce.

Everyone's burrito bowl will look different, because they are individually made. Enjoy!

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