Start to Finish: 45 minutes
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Thicker than enchiladas and typically made with flour instead of corn tortillas, burritos were first mentioned in print in America in Mexican Cookbook by Erna Fergusson, published in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1934. Those burritos called for chicharrones, deep-fried or oven-roasted pork rinds, but shredded chicken burritos fit more modern, 21st century American tastes.
- 1 pound chicken breasts
- 8 flour tortillas
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 2 cups salsa
- 2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 cups refried, black or pinto beans
- 2 cups rice, optional
- 1 cup sour cream, optional
- 1 cup chopped cilantro, optional
Prepare the Chicken
- Place the chicken breasts in a pot of boiling water, turn off the heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.
- Let the chicken sit in the water for 25 minutes, then take it out of the water to test it with an instant-read meat thermometer. If the temperature registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the breast, it's done. If not, return it to the water for another 5 minutes.
- Let the chicken cool until you can handle it easily, about 15 minutes.
- On a cutting board, hold the chicken with either your hand or a large fork and use another fork to pull shreds of chicken from the breast -- pull with the natural grain of the meat. Break apart large shreds with either the fork or your fingers, or leave them large if you like.
Make the chicken up to 4 days ahead of time, or use rotisserie chicken from your grocery.
Assemble the Burrito
- Wrap the tortillas tightly in foil and place them in a 300 F oven to warm slightly. This process reduces the chance that the tortillas will tear as you roll them.
- Place all the fillings around your cutting board, in bowls or on your countertop, so assembly will go quickly.
- Place each tortilla flat on the cutting board and spoon on about 1/4 cup of each filling in a line down the middle of the tortilla.
- Fold the right and left sides of the tortilla over the filling as far as they will go, then roll up the tortilla lengthwise.
- Wrap each burrito tightly in foil, place them all on a baking sheet or pan and heat them until they are warmed through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Instead of warming the burritos in the oven, you can also serve them immediately after assembling. This method works best when your fillings are all hot to begin with and you are only serving a few people. Warm the shredded chicken by moistening it with a few tablespoons of water or salsa and microwaving it for 2 minutes.
Seasonings, filling ingredients and side dishes provide you with opportunities to create your own customized burritos and Mexican meals:
- Stick with traditional Mexican seasonings, such as cumin, chili powder or smoky chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, for adding flavor to the rice and beans in your filling.
- Switch up the burrito fillings by adding cubed, cooked sweet potatoes instead of rice or cooked and drained Swiss chard in place of lettuce.
- Leave the beans and rice out of the burritos and serve them as side dishes flavored with salsa and chopped cilantro.
- Serve a side fruit salad drizzled with lime juice or a green salad with avocado chunks and tomatoes.
- Serve roasted sweet potato fries sprinkled with spicy chili powder and smoked paprika as a side dish.