Smoky Chipotle Mock Duck Burrito

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“That was the best meal I’ve had in a decade,” Jeff hailed with a quick kiss on the cheek before hauling a box of can lights up to the attic for the remodel. I smiled to myself as I thought, This is a meal for a woman who needs something done around the house! (Not that he wouldn’t do it anyway, but some guys may need a little extra push!) My husband, vegetarian for nearly seventeen years, still craves the satisfying texture and richness of protein, and despite not wanting to consume meat, he doesn’t mind the similarities to meat that plant protein substitutes like veggie burgers and mock duck have.

Burritos and Enchiladas have always been our favorite foods, and many years ago, when we were working on starting a restaurant, Mock Duck Stuffed Burritos were to be on the menu. The restaurant was to be in a quiet neighborhood in Minneapolis and would serve vegetarian Latino Fusion. The old corner store we were hoping to convert didn’t have any parking, and the neighbors didn’t want a restaurant in the location, so our plan died and so did the Mock Duck Stuffed Burrito…until today!

Mock duck prepared this way is a little like red chile stew made with slow cooked pork roast – a great meal to help prove to our fellow carnivores that vegetarian food isn’t hard to palate. Not only do these burritos have this amazingly flavorful mock duck, but I whipped up a batch of tomatillo salsa, some wicked delicious guacamole and a rice dish that will send you on a Soma holiday (Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, 1932)! This meal has many pieces and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

To prepare the burritos, we heat the tortillas on a skillet until they begin to toast slightly. As the tortilla warms, I like to add grated cheddar cheese first so it melts, then top it with rice and mock duck. Then I fold my burritos in half more like a quesadilla and toast them on both sides. Once it lands on the plate, the fun begins. I am all about the garnishes when it comes to Latin American food. I load on salsa, chopped cilantro, guacamole and some kind of cheese – either crema, cotija or crumbled feta. Oh, so satisfying!

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Mock Duck Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced so onion breaks apart in half-circles
  • 1/2 head roasted garlic, pureed in food processor
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, pureed in food processor
  • 4 cans mock duck, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried chipotle powder

Directions:

Saute the onions in the oil on low heat until they begin to caramelize. Next add the mashed garlic and chipotles. Mix in the shredded mock duck and spices. Cook on low heat for just a few minutes until the flavors have combined. I have found that if you cook mock duck too long, it breaks down and gets soft and mushy, so you really want to simply warm it.

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Herb Chimichurri

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I know, I know. We’re not supposed to serve anything with bits of green at a party, but we’re all friends. If someone starts to bare their teeth ever so slightly and seems to be fighting an uncontrollable urge to stick a fingernail between two teeth, take that as a cue to excuse yourself to the bathroom for a green speck check. What else are you supposed to do when basil is in season?

I have to admit something. I still have basil pesto in my freezer from last summer. It’s true. I like the stuff a lot – once a year. It’s just too rich for me. It’s easy to overdose on it. So, I like to use my basil to make chimichurri instead. It still holds the wonderful basil flavor and you can use it much the same, but it’s just a little lighter. I learned about chimichurri while living in Ecuador where it was mostly made from parsley and used as a condiment for meat or empanadas. Every now and then, in different restaurants, I detected different herbs. That was all the permission I needed to think outside the box with chimichurri. I have made it with whatever herbs I have on hand, and it always tastes great.

My patio herb pot is exploding, so I plucked a huge pile of greens including rosemary, thyme and sage. The basil came from the CSA, and the cilantro is local but from the co-op. As you can see, chimichurri is a great accompaniment to fresh tomatoes, a lovely spread on sandwiches or a great condiment for any warm savory summer dish.

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Herb Chimichurri Recipe

Ingredients:

All herb amounts are approximate:

  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 handful fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried pepper flakes (optional: fresh chile)
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Directions: Pulse in food procesor until well blended. This will be a little chunkier than pesto.

Stacked Enchilada

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Doesn’t this just look autumnal? I never noticed light quality as much as I have since I started snapping pictures of food. Using natural light in the late afternoon with late August sun is enough to remind me that winter in the Northern Hemisphere is heading in this direction. Fortunately, we have stacked enchiladas to warm the way.

The other day when I woke up thinking “Mexico,” I cooked eight pounds of black beans in order to have them on hand in the freezer. The only CSA produce remaining in the crisper were a pound of tomatillos and four yellow squash. As you know, the tomatillos got a spin around the salsa dance floor while the yellow squash demanded to be sliced up into buttery yellow ribbons. The yellow squash didn’t really get the parade it deserved with this dish, but added a sweet color and flavor when sautéed with strips of onions and little slivers of garlic before being sandwiched between two giant tortillas.

Not wanting to hide the layers and completely smother the enchilada in sauce, I only used a little tomatillo salsa to dress-up the stack. Extra salsas were served on the side along with cotija, crema and fresh avocado.

Part of the fun of this enchilada is its size. I wanted a giant single stacked enchilada that could be sliced like a pie for serving, so I made giant tortillas from maseca. I used a spring form pan so the thing wouldn’t slide, but in the end, could have baked it on the plate. As it’s a dry enchilada, it didn’t move at all. If the tortillas had been a little bigger, it would have been fun to really pack the springform pan full, so the enchilada would have a more cake-like shape. I’ll save that experiment for later.

Stacked Enchiladas with Black Beans and Yellow Squash

Tortilla Ingredients:

* 4 cups maseca tortilla flour
* Water to make soft dough

Directions: I have found that the directions on the maseca bag make the tortillas a little too dry. I add water to the maseca flour until I get nice smooth dough when it’s kneaded. Form the dough into a cylinder and cut into six pieces.

To make the tortillas you will need two pieces of plastic wrap and a large flat object to press the tortilla. I used the bottom of the spring form pan, but a small cutting board would also work. Roll the tortilla dough into a ball and gently press and flatten until you get a disk shape. Dip your fingers in a little oil at this point and cover the dough with it. Place the disk on the plastic wrap and cover with another piece of plastic. Then place your pie pan bottom or cutting board on top and press firmly until the tortilla is about 1/8 inch thick. The edges of the tortilla will split open, so I usually push all the edges together before I cook it.

To cook the tortilla you need a griddle on medium temperature. Place the tortilla on the griddle and cook it until it starts to show spots of brown then flip it. Each tortilla usually needs three to four minutes per side.

Enchilada Ingredients:

  • Two cups black beans cooked
  • Four yellow squash peeled into ribbons
  • 1/2 white onion cut into thinly sliced rounds
  • 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • oil to coat pan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • white cheddar cheese
  • Tomatillo Salsa – link to recipe

Enchilada Directions:

Peel the yellow squash with a potato peeler leaving the seeds. You only want the firm seedless part of the squash. Slice the onion rounds and then from the middle of the onion to the outside make a cut, so when the onions are sautéed they will form strips. In a little olive oil, sauté the onions until they become translucent then add the garlic and squash. Cook until the squash is just tender.

To make the enchilada stack, put a little tomatillo salsa on the bottom of the pan and then a tortilla. Alternate each stack with black beans, cheese and the sautéed squash. Cover the enchilada with grated cheese and bake for 30 minutes on 400 degrees. The cheese should be bubbly and beginning to brown. Garnish the enchilada with more tomatillo salsa and fresh cilantro. Mexican cotija, crema and fresh avocado give it a nice finish.

Three-ways To Salsa

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There is nothing better on a beautiful summer day than sitting outside sipping cold beer and dipping the old chips into something hot and spicy. I woke up thinking Mexico, and when I opened the fridge, the Minnesota tomatillos were just begging for a salsa lesson. Once I got started, the jealous garden tomatoes wanted to be spun around too. I ended up with the tomatillo, a roasted tomato and fresh tomato salsa.

Three Salsa Recipes

Tomatillo

The tomatillo and roasted tomato are basically the same salsa only one has tomatillos and the other tomatoes. All the ingredients get roasted on a sheet pan under the broiler until they start to blacken, then they get a zing through the food processor with lime juice, cilantro and salt.

* While I prep the ingredients for these salsas, I wrap a head of garlic in foil and place it in the oven at 400 degrees to roast it. When the other ingredients are ready to broil just toss the garlic on the sheet pan so it can continue to cook a little longer.

Tomatillo Ingredients:

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and washed
  • 1/2 medium white onion cut in quarters
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic*
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stem removed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro washed
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Line a large sheet pan with foil. Lay out washed tomatillos, chopped onion and jalapeno on the sheet. If you haven’t already started the garlic, that can be wrapped in foil and placed on the sheet pan as well. Place the vegetables under the broiler. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. I roast them until everything has a blackened spot on it. The onions take a little longer, so sometimes you may need to move things around so the tender veggies are further away from the heat. Once they are blackened a bit, set them aside to cool for a minute. When they are cool spoon them into a food processor and add the cilantro, lime juice salt and two of the roasted garlic cloves. Run the processor until the salsa is smooth. Refrigerate before serving.

Roasted Tomato Salsa Ingredients:

  • 10 Roma tomatoes washed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, stem removed
  • 1/2 medium white onion cut in quarters
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro washed
  • juice 1 lime
  • salt to taste

Roasted Tomato Salsa Directions:

Follow the same directions as for the tomatillos above. It’s very easy to make both of these recipes on one sheet tray together.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

A while back I posted this recipe but used red onions instead of white. These ingredients get a few pulses in the processor and you are ready to eat. Enjoy!

  • 6 Roma tomatoes quartered
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed
  • 1 lime juiced
  • salt to taste

Sofrito Salsa

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Sofrito Salsa

Doesn’t it just seem too dang hot for real food? I’d rather jump in the fridge with the vegetables than to cook them. I’m just not in the mood for anything that requires much time in the kitchen. So, I check in the fridge to see what’s NOT from the box, and under all the greens, I stumble upon this dash of red. It’s a six pack of red peppers from Costco – not fresh, not organic, but deliciously red – goes with the heat, you know.

I’ve always got black beans on the ready, so I decide to make some quick “Burrito Bowls” with what I call a “Sofrito Salsa.” Sofrito reigns from the warmer climates of places like Puerto Rico, Cuba and Haiti where it’s a base for much of their cooking. Simply, it’s onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes sauteed in a bit of oil. It get’s a little sweet from the nearly caramelized onion and pepper, but I spiced it up a little with a Serrano pepper. It was easy to cook up a pot of green rice and eat the whole mess with crema and romaine from Foxtail Farm.

The Grain Belt Premium was inspired by my friend, Mark Johnston, whose film commercial for Grainbelt won third place. http://www.grainbelt.com/ Check it out! He eats meat, but hasn’t lost his creative juices!

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Sarah plates a meal – boring!

But Jeff plates with pizazz!

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Here’s the Sofrito Salsa recipe:

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 red onion

4 cloves garlic

1 red pepper

1 roma tomato

1 serrano pepper

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. sugar

1 small bunch cilantro finely chopped

1 lime juiced

Directions:

If you don’t have a food processor, you need one! Put the onion and the garlic in the processor and chop fine. Toss in heated pan with olive oil and saute. Stir frequently. Let the onions and garlic cook for about five minutes or until the onions lose most of their pink color. Meanwhile chop the pepper and tomato in the food processor and add to onions and garlic. Cook this for another three or four minutes. Add water and mix. Put sofrito mix into the freezer to cool for a few minutes. Chop the Serrano and cilantro in the food processor. When the sofrito is cool, add the Serrano, cilantro, salt, sugar and lime juice. Mix this all together. If it seems too thick, add a bit more water and stir again. Serve it up!

From the Box: Romaine Lettuce