Burritos Have That Mexican Charm

Homemade tasty burritos with vegetables and beef
Image by Alexei Loginovich, c/o www.123rf.com

Street food is quite a glory. If you visit Portland or Manzanita in Oregon then there are some champion Mexican food sellers and burritos are one of the class acts. They offer so much variety and I know that many of them often represent a region because of their unique style. I don’t consider them tacos because this foodstuff is not the same texture or wrap. That wrap is a tortilla and very simple to make too.

For a family dinner or lunch, beef whether it is smoky or spicy makes the ideal meat version. I have them grilled with some melted cheese. Cheddar is good but I also reckon Wensleydale works brilliantly as well.  

For me, part of the burrito experience is what else you have as a trimming. There must be guacamole, some fried black beans, a dollop of sour cream and at least salsa – always with a tomato in mind. The other great feature is that you can have them for breakfast and not many  foods do that for you.

The typical burrito will often have a filling based on some meat but vegetarian and even vegan options are now possible. Mince is usually a standard but pork or chicken makes a flavourful alternative. To be honest, and it wont help my veggie friends but meat really ought to be the filling. To avoid any dryness, that burrito meat needs to be moist so that the cooking juice and fat contribute bags of flavour and a slightly warm greasy mouthfeel.  Mince has often been the preferred choice because of its cheapness and texture. A pork chop wont do although I’ve seen burritos made with them. I like flash or pan-fried pieces of chicken breast or a bit of pork loin. Pulled pork is lovely mind and feels like a separate recipe in its own right.

The original burrito is a Mexican staple which has crossed over into Tex-Mex cuisine. The essential piece is a floury tortilla that wraps rather snugly around its filling like a well-made bed. The tortilla is often steamed or grilled so that it is soft enough to stick whatever is filling it and allow itself to be resolutely wrapped around its filling. The original term ‘burrito’ my sister-in-law says comes from the Spanish for ‘little donkey’. What is problematic is when they are described as tacos. 

Back in 2005, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended 3 or more servings of whole grains per day. Likewise the Food & Drug Administration suggested the consumption of 25 g of total dietary fiber and 6 g of soluble fiber. However, on a daily basis most Americans still only consume one serving of whole grains and 14 g of fiber. If the burrito was made using a wholewheat tortillas then this would change considerably.

Spicy Beef Burritos

For four people!


  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 500g beef mince
  • 75ml beef stock
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp hot or spicy chilli powder
  • 1½ tsp paprika
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes – Italian does just fine here
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1 x 210g tin kidney beans, drained
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish
  • 8 x 20cm flour tortillas (pre-made but I also believe it is better to make your own where possible).
  • 100g Cheddar cheese, grated

To serve:

  • 2 Little Gem lettuces, shredded
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • soured cream (optional)


  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 5-6 mins, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown.
  2. Add the mince beef and increase the heat.
  3. Cook for 3 mins, stirring continuously to break up meat, until browned all over.
  4. Stir in the cumin, paprika, chilli powder and tomato purée, and cook for a further 1 min.
  5. Add in the chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and stock, stir and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 mins until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from the heat, stir in the chopped coriander and season to taste.
  7. Preheat the grill to high.
  8. Spoon the beef filling into the centre of the tortillas. Scatter half the cheese down the filling, then fold the sides of the tortillas in to create the burritos.
  9. Arrange them closely together on a baking tray and top with the remaining grated cheese.
  10. Grill for 1-2 mins until the cheese has melted and the filling is hot, then transfer to serving plates. Serve with the lettuce, tomatoes and a dollop of soured cream, if liked.
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