In Balaclava, near St Kilda in Melbourne, there is a restaurant called Eat Drink Love Taco. I swear there is no better Mexican food available outside of Mexico itself. Australia appears to have a really good Mexican takeaway culture, as does America. In England, this appears to be less so. When you get a Mexican, it is a poshed up gourmet nonsense of a place, rather than a good, cheap takeaway, like our Chinese, Indian, and fish and chip places. There is Chiquitos, but they don’t deliver, always appear to be located on industrial estates, and are of… variable quality.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Old El Paso range of make at home Tex-Mex cuisine, but seems to be directly affected by our lack of good Mexican eateries- you get a powdery spice mix full of sugar, a vac pack of vaguely tomatoey salsa, and some wraps. It’s not, by some stretch, the foil wrapped, hand held, meal you dream of eating, and more a low cost, compromised thing that could only ever disappoint.
So I’ve had to make do myself. This is the first try that comes close to what, to paraphrase Murakami paraphrasing somebody else, I talk about when I talk about Burritos. I made this with leftover turkey, but you could make it with almost any meat. My personal preferences would be;
- Steak and chorizo
- Chicken and chorizo
- Red and yellow pepper and mushroom
- Lamb, fresh mint, and extra chilli
- Chorizo and chorizo
The recipe is an adaptation of Sophie Wright’s recipe from the brilliant cookbook, Home at 7, Dinner at 8, which is a reference bible for anybody who aspires to a Michelin star while working at a desk.
- 2 red chillies (seeds in if you’re into the heat thing)
- 1/2 an onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 250-300g meat of your choice
- 1 tin tomatoes
- 350ml chicken stock (or match stock to your meat)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp powdered coriander
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- a handful of chopped coriander
- 100g wholegrain rice
- 200g kidney beans (optional)
- 100g grated cheese
- 2-4 large tortillas
- Guacamole (or just add some chilli and lime to a smashed up avocado)
- Sour cream
- Salsa (chop a few tomatoes, pour over a tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Any additional flourishes to your own tastes)
- TIN FOIL
In a medium hot pan, sweat the onions, garlic and chillies in a little oil for a few minutes, until the onion is pale and slightly golden. Add your chosen meat, and add 1 tsp cumin and cinnamon and 1 tbsp coriander as you seal the meat.
When the outside of the meat is nicely browned, add the tin of tomatoes and the stock and the remaining herbs (and if you like, the kidney beans), and reduce to a simmer. You’ll want all this to simmer down until it’s pretty much no longer a liquid at all, but a delicious thick mix of tomato and meat. It should take around 20-30 minutes.
Put the rice in a separate saucepan, cover with water, plus an extra centimetre or so, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer, for around 20 minutes, lid on.
Beyond the occasional stir, you have 20 minutes to either make a guacamole, salsa, refried beans or Mexican accoutrements of your choice, or you could put your feet up and play some FIFA.
Back already? Okay, everything should be done. Start by adding some sweetcorn to the rice, and stir through. Then lay a tortilla on a slightly larger piece of tin foil. In the middle, put a little guacamole, sour cream and salsa, and spread into a rectangle using the back of a spoon.
Lay cheese on this rectangle (and some jalapenos, if you like), then spoon on a good amount of the tomatoey meat mixture, then almost as much of the rice.
Fold the bottom of the tortilla up, then the left and right sides, as tightly as you can, then fix into place by doing the same with the tin foil, losing as little of the tightness as humanly possible. Tear off the top of the foil, and eat.