Italian Burritos

My Florida Friend doesn’t cook much. Just enough to have calories and some flavor. Me? I’m more a foodie than that, so when I’m visiting I like to ‘get creative’ and make interesting tasty meals.

Last night I made “Italian Burritos”. Here’s how I did it (and yes, they were a success ;-)

In a medium / large frying pan, put about a tsp of olive oil, add one medium / large onion (or two small ones) chopped. Start a sauté on medium heat. About 6? minutes into the sizzling part (or however long it takes to chop them up ;-) add about a pound of Mild Italian Sausages minced (or chopped as you like it… I made bits about olive sized ’cause it Like things chunky ;-)

Simmer and sauté all that until it is cooked through (turn bits over to assure everything gets some pan time and about 3 minutes on a side gives nice browning stuff). When it’s looking cooked, add about 1/2 to 1/3 of a small jar of Pace Picante Sauce ( I’d guess about 4 ounces… just to the ‘has sauce’ stage but not to the point of sloppy wet and dripping…) and “sprinkle over” with Comino (Cumin) and Garlic Powder.

How much? Depends on what you like. I do about as much as the salt I’d put on such a pan of meat, or about an even sprinkle enough to see the dusting of cumin as an even layer, but not thick. Too much cumin becomes bitter, too little it tastes very Italian and not very Mexican. Sprinkle a little, stir, and taste. If it isn’t Mexican enough, add more ;-)

In a second frying pan, put a 15 ounce can of Rosarita Original Refried Beans. Mash flat with a spatula and start it to frying on a medium heat (reduce to low once simmering some – you will need to turn spatula fulls of it over ever 3 or 5 minutes until that point to keep tabs on it as the bottom gets hot while the top shows nothing…)

In a third large frying pan, have it ready to take a tortilla to warm. I’ve also just stuck them, one at a time, on the oven rack at 350 for a couple of minutes…

OK, final check: Taste the meat mix, add salt if needed. I added a light sprinkle to bring up the flavors. It ought to be a nice cooked sauce with the onions clear and reducing into the sauce, and that sauce ought to be a thick paste, not runny.

The Assemble:

Have a tortilla sized rolling plate or wooden cutting board. Put a tortilla in the hot tortilla sized pan, let it sit a minute, then flip. Feel free to touch the topside, and the ‘flip’ is done by grabbing an edge with fingertips / fingernails.. (truly authentic would be to do this over a gas flame or fire… but this is fine) Once hot (be careful not to burn, but if it gets brown spots, well, that’s tasty too but the rolling will be harder with a stiff tortilla…) put it on the plate and put the next tortilla in the pan.

With a spatula, put about 3 tbs (as you like it) of beans on the center of the tortilla in a stripe down the middle, leaving an empty inch or two at each end for rolling. Add a similar amount of meat mix. Step to the cold station: Add 2 olives (squashed and broken into halves or bits). I like black ones. Then sprinkle about as much Mexican Cheese Shreds on as you have beans or meat (again, as you like it – but it takes more than you first think). Sprinkle on hot sauce to your personal taste – folks who don’t like hot will be fine with zero…

Take the side near you and pull it over the ‘lump’. Press the edge to the tortilla on the other side, and pull back toward you, forming the lump into a squashed roll. Fold the ends (sides) in to make a seal at the ends, then proceed to roll away from you.

That’s it, now go do the next one. If you do it right, about 1/2 way though the process you flip the other tortilla and at the end of the roll, the next one is ready to load ;-)

I used Publix Market house brand Mild Italian Sausage. About a pound. (Five large ones about like a medium Polish Dog) You can use just about any brand with the same effect, or other meats for other effects. I’ve even used Turkey Kielbasa… but then it isn’t an Italian Burrito ;-)

Enjoy.

Oh, and any made in excess of what is needed for the night can be put in a plastic tub in the freezer and frozen. Just microwave a couple of minutes (in two stages…) to defrost and warm when hungry…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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26 Responses to Italian Burritos

  1. philjourdan says:

    I love fusion as well! And that one sounds like a winner!

  2. Gail Combs says:

    OR, you can take and put one to two tablespoons on some wax paper laying on some Al foil. squash flat and fold the wax paper and then the foil to make a nice packet.

    You now have a very easy to thaw mix ready to add to an omelet or rice or taco….

  3. H.R. says:

    Remember, E.M., everything tastes better wrapped in a tortilla :o)
    I’ve done Italian and Mexican meat-loafs, but I’ve not whipped up Italian burritos. I’m thinking instead of meatball subs, just wrap the meatballs, sauce, and cheese in a tortilla.

    @ Gail – I never really thought about freezing things in serving sized packets as you’ve described. I’ll have to see how that fits in with my leftovers.

  4. philjourdan says:

    @HR – Unless you are a bread person, which I am not. I am like you – I prefer a good tortilla!

  5. Gail Combs says:

    H.R.
    What I normally do is use wax paper or saran wrap sitting on Al foil to make the individual packets and then the entire batch goes into a large freezer bag with name and date. Squashing them flat makes them easier to store and makes it very fast thawing.

    With only two of us individual packets make the most sense. I like to do most of my cooking in the fall/winter/spring and not cook much in the summer. It is great to have cooked and diced pork or chicken or beef frozen and ready to toss onto a salad without having to heat up the whole house.

  6. Gail Combs says:

    Philjourdan, I much rather a tortilla or flat bread/ pita pocket if I am going to waste calories on a starch.

    I have never really like regular bread — the eatable napkin.

  7. H.R. says:

    @phil – Yup, I’m not much of a bread person unless it is homemade, fresh-baked, still warm from the oven, and I have a stick of butter. In which case, I’ll go through anyone and anything to get to it.

    @Gail – Just the two of us now at our house. Before I retired in June this year, I’ve had a career-long habit of bringing leftovers to work for lunch, so plastic containers in the fridge were fine. But now I’m cooking the same and eating less, so your technique has been tucked away in the list of my techniques to save leftovers that (now) won’t be getting eaten before they go bad.

  8. Gail Combs says:

    H.R.,
    I do not really like to cook — esp the clean up part, so I have a tendency to make a large amount at one time.

    When I was working I would take a weekend and make beef & barley, pork sausage & lentils, chicken & rice hearty soups with lots of veggies and freeze two person servings so if I can home late I had a choice of meals. I also froze moussaka, spaghetti sauce and the makings for hamburger stroganoff (just add the sour cream) Sure beat the heck out of frozen TV dinners!

    Then on Monday or Tuesday I would chop up fresh veggies and store individually, unthaw some chopped up raw beef or chicken or pork. Fire up the wok and with various sauces and canned water chestnuts or bamboo shoots or lily buds you have a different Chinese dish each day for a few days running. I really like Chinese food and it is pretty quick to make especially if the veggies and meat are already chopped. By the time the white rice is cooked you can get everything cooked up in the wok.

    With a bit of planning I managed to eat well during the work week without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

  9. Gail Combs says:

    I should also mention one of those small freezers I found to be well worth the cost because you don’t waste food and do not eat out as much and don’t go shopping as much. Also you can take advantage of the sales to stock up on stuff that can be frozen. For example we head to Sam’s Club a couple times a year (over an hour a way) and buy ~$400 worth of meat that will last us around 6 months.

    A 5 cu ft freezer runs between $150 to $500 bucks. For Example

  10. philjourdan says:

    @H.R>

    @phil – Yup, I’m not much of a bread person unless it is homemade, fresh-baked, still warm from the oven, and I have a stick of butter. In which case, I’ll go through anyone and anything to get to it.

    yes, then we would have a right good row over who gets to it first! But then, that is seldom seen in my house (too much work). So Tortillas are my wrapper of choice.

  11. H.R. says:

    Gail,
    I think I see the difference in our attitudes towards the kitchen. I love to cook and I enjoy and take pride in the fact that all knives, cooking utensils, and cookware are clean and put away within 3-4 minutes of a meal being plated. I have lots of ingredients around to make just about anything. It’s like having my own restaurant where the menu is pretty much whatever appeals to you at the moment.

    I enjoy the slicing and dicing of prep work. I am very quick when shopping and shop 3-5 stores on Sunday each week, taking a max of 3 hours. I am a scavenger and know where all the markdowns are. I have a 10-12 cu. ft. freezer sitting in the basement, unplugged, because I like to cook with fresh meat and veggies. So my habit is to buy canned and dry goods as stock-up items to use as ‘ingredients.’

    However, your mention of ‘an hour away’ reminded me that you are rural and I’m semi-rural. For me, it’s about 10-15 minutes to the area where there are plenty of competing grocery stores. The rough menus of the week are planned as I find marked-down meats or know of the deal-the-week. (For example, during Thanksgiving week, one of the stores was running Porterhouse steaks at $4.99/lb; fresh, not from the cook-today-or-tomorrow bin. I have a natural gas, 100% stainless steel grill, so except for heavy snow, I grill out year-round and those steaks on the grill were a treat!) I might buy 1-2 peppers, 1-2 onions, and celery every other week, and 1 week of meats on sale or mark-down to cook on Sunday and Monday.

    Thus the difference: my ‘refrigerator’ and ‘freezer’ are really just down the street for fresh stuff and costs me little time. However… now that I’m on a fixed income, I think I’ll be firing up that freezer again, which is why I’ll be paying much more attention to your techniques. And when E.M. starts another thread on food preservation, I’ll be paying closer attention.

    I wish I had goats and a garden available to me. I like goat, and I grew up tending a garden that was sized to feed 7 people for a year. Mom canned what was needed to cover the veggies through the winter months and we had a root cellar for potatoes, parsnips, etc.

    I guess I have to get past denial and move on to acceptance that I need to modify my cooking style a bit to include frozen and home-preserved items. Your approach is is definitely more frugal than mine and you’ve contributed enough tips in past articles that I can go back to re-read.

    Sorry for the ramble, Gail, et al, but as I was pondering and discussing the differences in our cooking approaches, it appears I also just talked myself over the hump of denial that I can’t afford to run a home restaurant anymore.

    /ramble

  12. philjourdan says:

    @ Gail

    I do not really like to cook — esp the clean up part,

    When I was dating my wife, I cooked her a meal. She told me never to set foot in the kitchen again, unless I was doing dishes! So we came to an agreement. She cooks, and I clean!

    Perhaps Mr. Gail can be persuaded with the same deal? ;-)

    And for the record, I am a lousy cook!

  13. H.R. says:

    @phil
    I grew up in the ’50s-60’s and sliced white bread was the norm in grocery stores; lots and lots and lots of choices of variations on Wonder-bread. No whole wheat that I can recall.

    Anyhow, mom thought it was all crap, so she baked bread once or twice a week as needed. About once a month, I’d go with her to a mill that was out in a one-stoplight town (now littered with million-dollar-and-up homes and totally unrecognizable to me) to get whole wheat flour. She’d buy fresh-milled cornmeal, about 10 lbs, and whole wheat flour for bread, about 50 lbs, which is why she needed me along.

    She’d bake 5-7 loaves at a time and the first one out of the oven always fell prey to me and my stick of butter. That was back in the day when I weighed 130 pounds @6’0″, ran distances (20+ miles per day while training), and needed 10,000+/- calories a day to avoid weight loss.

    Good times, slim waistline, all long gone :o)

  14. Gail Combs says:

    “Perhaps Mr. Gail can be persuaded with the same deal?…”
    That was part of the marriage arrangement, unfortunately he is rotten at kitchen clean-up. On the plus side he is a great pastry cook.

  15. Gail Combs says:

    H.R. you might try sneaking a wether (castrated) lamb or goat into the backyard for the summer and take him to slaughter when the frost hits. Of course you will have to keep the wife from making him into a pet…

    For gardening check out square foot gardening. It is designed for a small space with max out put.

  16. Gail Combs says:

    I should add that it is 5 goats/sheep per acre and 1 cow per two acres or about 500 pounds per acre for well watered pasture. Therefore a 1/4 acre will do nicely. Just make sure you worm very well before turning you animal loose so your area stays worm free.

  17. philjourdan says:

    @ H.R. – “all long gone” – Yea, if I put a stick of butter to a loaf of fresh bread, I would be twice the weight! But I can still remember the smell and taste!

  18. Gail Combs says:

    REAL Butter + cornbread, fresh baked biscuits, pumpkin bread, swedish pancakes*….

    *Mom added extra eggs to the recipe to get more eggs into us. Sure beats Kelloggs Sugar Bombs.

  19. H.R. says:

    Gail – “For gardening check out square foot gardening. It is designed for a small space with max out put.”

    Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been aware of square foot gardening and its high yield, but had not tried it.

    I put in an 8′ x 8′ with a divider ((4’x8′)x2) raised bed garden a few years ago and had no time to tend it. This coming year, I have time to plan and plant so I think I’ll use the “Square foot” approach. That old garden I tended growing up had 100′ rows and mom’s directive was to plant enough for all the birds and critters and us.

    As for sheep, We have a 1/3+ acre lot, but the sheep wouldn’t survive the coyotes. N.B. there are no stray cats in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood abuts a state park of about 7,000 acres surrounding a 3,800 acre reservoir. It’s lousy with deer, turkeys, and coyotes.

    But! (H.R. slaps forehead, further flattening and increasing the slope of said forehead.) Just a 1/4 mile up the road there is a family that raises sheep. They have 30 to 70 in the flock depending on time of year. It never occurred to me to ask them about buying one as they never put out a sign that they are selling. So help me out here; when would be the time they’d most likely want to sell so I can stop by about a month before?

    Gail, phil – always real butter. Mom knew 50 years ago that margarine would kill ya.

  20. Gail Combs says:

    H.R.,
    I would do so NOW. Lambing season is coming up and many farms sell off the weanling ram Lambs at 6 to 8 weeks. If you negotiate with them now they might be willing to keep a ram lamb for you until fall.

  21. H.R. says:

    Thanks, Gail!

  22. H.R. says:

    Oops! Gail, what’s a range I should expect to pay if they hold ’til fall? Prices are local, so I’d expect your estimate to have a wide range.

  23. H.R. says:

    And what if the coyotes get ‘my’ sheep? I suppose I’m out my investment.

    Noob here. Can ya tell ;o)

  24. p.g.sharrow says:

    H.R. visit the neighbors and get to know them. Might be fun and a learning experience.
    Buy a lamb or two as carcass and cut up to suit yourself. DON”T start out trying to raise them yourself. Those people with 30 or so breeders should have plenty to sell and know something about readying them for cooking. ;-)
    I have a 20 sq.foot chest freezer in our storeroom that is always in use. At 1/8hp it uses little power and will keep food frozen for several days with power off. An upright, specially a frostfree are a waste of space and energy…pg
    .

  25. G. Combs says:

    P.G.
    With a bad back, I compromised with an upright that is NOT frost free. We also have a generator that can run the frig or freezer or the well.

    My first couple of freezers were chest freezers and I found them a PITA to keep organized.

  26. G. Combs says:

    Since it is almost Christmas and time for fun food, I thought I would toss this in here.

    The Conservative Tree House Annual Christmas Recipe Thread

    A Baconmas Tree!

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