Mission Burritos

{ Friday, March 5, 2010 }
Before I spent four months in San Francisco last year, I didn't know burritos were a thing. I mean, I knew what a burrito was, but I never really ate them. I always thought the only place one could get a burrito would be Taco Time, and Mexican fast food made by Canadian children scares me. But now I want burritos are the time! They are to San Francisco what poutine is to Montreal — the perfect meal available at all hours of the night to drunk twenty-somethings after too much PBR. I discovered this food fact one magical evening in the Mission District, a neighbourhood in San Francisco that is equal parts hipster and Hispanic. Which means there are lots of dive bars and taquerias, a winning combination.

Burritos in Northern California are truly an institution that must be experienced, but if you don't see yourself in the Mission at 3 am anytime soon, conjure up this worthy substitute. Burritos are very versatile, so you can use whatever filling you fancy, but I like this easy vegan version. It's what I would always order in the Mission, and sometimes simple is better (and cheaper). Plus, they are extra San-Fran-hipster this way, and isn't it nice when food has an identity? (And a Wikipedia page, apparently. Check it.)

Mission Burritos (serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup brown rice
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
1 small can tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
4 large flour tortillas
1 (14 ounce) can black beans or kidney beans, drained, rinsed, and set aside
1 ripe avocado, sliced
chips and salsa
tin foil

First, make some Spanish rice. In a saucepan over medium heat, saute rice, onion, and green pepper in oil until the rice is toasted and the vegetables are tender crisp (about 5 minutes).

Add sauce, broth, and spices and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to medium-low, and cook 40-50 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand an additional 10 minutes without lifting the lid.

When the rice is cooked and slightly cool, get tortillas hot and wet (dirty!). The easiest way is to wrap them individually in very damp paper towels, stack them, and microwave on high for 30-45 seconds.

Take a prepared tortilla and place about 1/3 cup of rice on one side, then top with beans and avocado slices.

Fold the sides of the tortilla over the filling, then roll up the burrito.

Wrap the burrito in tin foil. (This step is important for authenticity purposes.)

Serve with chips and salsa —burritos always come with chips and salsa—throw on some wayfarers, and enjoy!


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