We conclude the Hot Burrito Trilogy with the wet burrito. It’s kind of a Southern California thing, copied elsewhere but usually not so well. The evolution of the burrito in SoCal is sort of mysterious. When did the “wet” version arrive? I’m not sure. Probably the 1970’s. El Cholo began offering their Burrito Dorado in 1977. It contained chile con carne and was tarted up with the colors of the Mexican flag; green, white and red---not that Mexico ever saw such a concoction inside its borders. It’s an LA thing.
Carnitas is maybe my favorite filling for a burrito, along with lengua as a close second runner up. Carnitas is first braised and then finished in its own cooked off fat. Typically the taqueria/restaurant will ask you if you want this burrito dry or wet. Both are good. But to complete our trilogy here is the wet version.
1 1/2 pounds
fatty pork such as country style ribs
large tortillas (the 10” size)
white or brown onion, thinly sliced
orange, cut into quarters
stock (pork preferred, or chicken or vegetable)
of one bunch cilantro
Your favorite hot sauce (we like The Pepper Plant Original California Style*)
15 ounce can enchilada sauce (we recommend Hatch brand**)
Crumbled cotija cheese or grated cheese to your own taste
Slice up your pork into pieces about 1 inch thick.
In a large bowl combine the chili powder and cumin. Mix that well and then add the pork. Work it all together with your clean hands. Wash your hands.
In a large flame proof pot render down your lard and any extra pork fat. Brown the pork and set aside while you color your onions. This only takes a minute or so.
Deglaze your pan with a splash of stock or even wine. When that’s done return the pork to the pan and add remaining stock and the bay leaves and the orange quarters. Simmer this only half covered with the lid for about 1 ½ to 2 hours or until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.
Increase the heat so that you are now browning your pork pieces. Now is the time to start heating your enchilada sauce. Remember to open the can. Bring that to a slow simmer while the pork is cooking.
Heat your oven to 375F
Chop the cilantro.
Lay out a tortilla on a flat surface. Some cooks recommend warming or toasting on the gas range. I didn’t go to that school. Brush the tortilla with some hot sauce. Scoop on some pork and toss in some cilantro. DON’T skip the cilantro unless you are a total sissy. Roll it up and place on a plate.
Ladle on a generous amount of enchilada sauce. Sprinkle cotija cheese over it. Put the plate in the oven until the cheese just begins to melt. The broiler is NOT recommended for this. Repeat with your remaining burros.
*The Pepper Plant if you are interested, is a family run company in Gilroy, California. They make the best hot sauce in the state. While they do several other styles like “chipotle” I would advise you to stick to the original.
**There is of course a Hatch, NM. The arrival of Hatch chiles in August is always something to look forward to. But Hatch is also a trademarked brand. Highly recommended.
Note to cook: If you want to replicate the El Cholo Mexican flag burrito you might heat up two separate pans of enchilada sauce; one red and one green. If you are doing that, ladle red on one side and green on the other. Spoon some sour cream or crema in the middle.
Another note to the cook; some recipes suggest that you add either whole milk or sweetened condensed milk to the carnitas at the beginning. I've never found that to actually improve the flavor, but rather just the opposite.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.