Friday 4 July 2008

Curious Chipotles and Bonza Burritos

I don’t get excited by chillis but I do love to wander through a foreign food store in search of something different from our usual supermarket offerings. On a visit to Casa Iberica in Fitzroy recently I was intrigued by a tin of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, which I had never seen before. I also bought tinned black beans and dried garlic flakes because I rarely encounter them elsewhere.

To celebrate my first purchase of chipotle peppers I thought I should find out just what they are and turned to the trusty Wikipedia. To my surprise I found they were actually red jalapeno peppers that had been dried in a smoking chamber. It was less surprising to then discover that the word comes from Nahuatl for dried chilli. For those of you wondering about Nahuatl, it is a group of dialects and related languages of the Aztecs. Curious about the history, I turned to the Tabasco Historian who writes that they have been eaten in ancient Mexican civilizations since before the Aztecs.

It seemed only right and proper that I sample my new chipotle peppers in a Mexican dish and I had been eyeing off Wendy’s version of the Moosewood’s Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos that she posted recently. How would they be with chipotle? I couldn’t resist finding out.

Rather good, actually. Smoky and fiery hot. Even E (who is known as Mr Tabasco Fiasco in this house for his tendency to add Tabasco to almost every meal I serve) exclaimed at the heat. Fortunately I warned him to taste before he doused. It may have been made hotter by me adding more of the adobo sauce than I had intended because the jar I put the remains in was a little bit too small. Wikipedia gives them 3 out of 5 on the heat scale but they are much hotter than I am used to. However, I am sure there will be a lot more of them on my blog as I have a jarful to get through.

While I was feeling like the Curious Orange, I also did a little experiment with the cheese. When Wendy had posted her burritos, I wondered why she had grilled the cheese after cooking them rather than just cooking them with cheese on them. So I tried just baking the burritos with cheese. It didn’t crisp up as I had hoped. But if I had grilled it I am sure my ends of burritos would have charred (unlike Wendy’s very appetizing looking ones). I have decided that tortillas are just too delicate to be able to produce a nice crispy golden cheese topping and maybe next time I should try adding the cheese to the mixture.

Wendy served hers with tomato salsa but I wasn’t organized enough. Only as I was cooking them did I remember they needed some sort of sauce. I cooked up a quick makeshift tomato sauce out of tomato passata, pumpkin chutney, a pinch of salt, spring onions and garlic. It was very good. We also had broccoli and corn on the cob with them. The following night I lightly fried some vegies and added more of my passata which was lovely. There are lots of ways to eat these burritos and I highly recommend you try some. But if you do use chipotle peppers and feel about chillis as I do, go easy!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burrito
(adapted from Wendy’s version of The Moosewood Low Fat Cookbook)
Serves 4

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 600g)
Vegetable oil
3 spring onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped
1 tbsp adobo sauce
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
400g (15oz) tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
Handful of parsley
Juice of half a lemon
½ tsp salt
4 tortillas
Grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Add the sweet potato to a pan of salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a medium sized saucepan. Fry spring onions and garlic over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add cumin and coriander and cook for 1 minute.

Remove saucepan from the heat and add sweet potato, chilli, black beans, parsley, lemon juice and salt. Use a potato masher to roughly mash together. (Or use a blender to roughly chop.)

Pre-heat oven to 170 C and lightly grease a 23cm square baking dish (I used a cake tin because it was the best size in the kitchen).

Divide the sweet potato mixture between 4 tortillas. Spread mixture along the middle of each tortilla, roll up and place in baking dish with seam down so they fit snugly.

I sprinkled cheese and some sesame seeds on mine and baked uncovered for 30 minutes but Wendy covered hers with foil, baked for 30 minutes, then she sprinkled with cheese and placed under the grill til the cheese was bubbling and starting to brown.

On the Stereo:
13 + 1 of the best: Tuxedo Moon


  1. This is one of my top favourite recipes of all time so I'm so glad you tried it! I've never found chipotles in adobe either and have always been intrigued. It's nice to hear how you got on with them. I have never heard of the Curious Orange despite being British - I thought it must be a character from a children's book before I followed your link!

  2. Mmm I love the combination of black beans and sweet potatoes! These look yummy. I had never used chipotle peppers until I got the Rebar cookbook which uses them in so many recipes. I never end up using the whole tin though and it sadly gets dumped. I should freeze the puree in an ice cube tray.

  3. Delighted that you tried these out. I just love them.
    Also really interested in your use of the chipoltes. I got a can of these though Blogging By Mail and they are still in the cupboard staring at me! Will try them out next time. :)

  4. So yum! I am so making it. I esp loved ur Pumpkin Pancakes too - that pic looks simply amazing!Bookmarked

  5. I've seen chipotle everywhere lately (it seems to have arrived on menus in recent years), but have never ventured to buy a jar or can. Now I must! We LOVE anything hot and spicy in our house (food, I meant food!!). And I just love "Tabasco fiasco"--had to laugh at that one!

    The final product does, indeed, sound delicious. Another recipe to try. :)

  6. thanks Lysy - This Morning with Richard not Judy was that silly anarchic humour and the curious orange skits were always ridiculous and hilarious - maybe you were too buy drinking Pimms - oops I mean studying - when it was on :-)

    thanks Ashley - I have wondered how long my jar will keep in the fridge - I am assuming that the spices will preserve it for some time but am not sure

    thanks Wendy - it is a great combination and I did love the smokiness of the chipotles

    thanks DK

    thanks Ricki - it does seem that chipotle is everywhere but now I have some I need to find all those recipes I have seen with them in them - if you love hot and spicy (food) you will love these - I am not too into the hot and spicy but I am rather partial to a bit of smokiness at the moment which is what I love about them

  7. These sound great. I have never seen chipotle sold anywhere here. The addition of the sweet potato with the beans would be wonderful.

  8. I loved this recipe when I saw Wendy posting it and I feel no different know, except I want them and soon! I will have to go back and read the curious orange link, it floated over my head :)

  9. I just adore black beans with sweet potatoes, we use this combination a lot in our house! I bet with chipotles your burritos were awesome! I always love trying an ingredient that is new to me.

  10. It will likely come as no surprise to you to find out I'm a big fan of chipotles :) Great recipe.

  11. Sweet potatoes and black beans are my favorite burrito fillings! They work so well together.

  12. Thanks Katie - the chipotle seem less common that I had thought

    thanks Holler - the curious orange reference was just a little whimsical because I always liked it in the show

    thanks Jenn - it is great to come to know a new ingredient

    thanks Lisa - I would imagine you would love them

    thanks Cookinpanda - yes a great combination, although not so common in Australia

  13. We've bought those chipotles from Casa Iberica a few times, too - I love the smokiness of the sauce! It sure packs a punch, though - I tend to limit my doses of the sauce down to 1/2 to 1 teaspoon. We've also stored them in the fridge a long time without problems.


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