April 9, 2024
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April 9, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I have discovered chocolate with sea salt. I am smitten. And of course, this got me thinking, then reading, about chocolate and cuisine. Enter cocoa, that sublime ingredient which takes proper Mexican cookery to such a delectable level you will never again see jarred enchilada sauce in the same way.

Once you try this aromatic sauce, you will agree that the rest of the meal must be worthy of this fragrant elixir. And so, here is a burrito recipe that provides a delicious and versatile way to enjoy your own enchilada sauce. Make this dish with the chicken or omit it and enjoy a vegetarian burrito with real sour cream and sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese.

What you need for the sauce:

Large non-stick skillet


Small bowl

3 Tbl. chili powder

¼  tsp. cayenne pepper

3 Tbl. flour

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. oregano

1 scant Tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. sugar

3 – 31/2 cups water

1 cup tomato puree

In a small bowl, blend the dry ingredients and add small amounts of water, enough to make a paste of medium thickness. Add the paste to the saucepan and over a medium flame gradually add 3 cups of water, whisking to completely blend. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken, stirring occasionally and adding a bit more water if it thickens too quickly. Add the tomato puree and simmer again until thickened, about10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more cayenne if you like it hot and more salt if you prefer. Set the sauce aside in a bowl or a container. Sauce can be made several days in advance, but the flavors will be at their best 24 hours after preparation.

For the chicken:

Shallow glass dish

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 Tbl. lime juice

½ cup chopped cilantro

½-3/4 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. oregano

Dash cayenne

2 Tbl. olive oil

In the glass dish, blend the lime juice, salt, cilantro, oregano and cayenne and, last, add the olive oil. Add the chicken, turning to coat each piece. Cover and refrigerate for 12-18 hours. When you are ready to prepare the burritos, broil the chicken, turning to cook evenly and thoroughly. (The length of time under the broiler will depend on your oven.)  Let the chicken rest for several minutes before cutting into half inch pieces.

For the black beans:

Same skillet used for the sauce

Wooden spoon or, ideally, a flat-top wooden spatula

1 15oz. can black beans

1 T finely chopped fresh jalapeno pepper

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1 medium clove of garlic, finely chopped

½ tsp., depending on whether the beans already have salt

Olive oil for the pan

Heat the skillet, add olive oil to coat bottom and sauté the shallots until translucent. Add the black beans, salt if necessary, jalapeño and garlic and stir, pressing down on the beans with the back of the spoon or spatula as you go. The mixture will become a thick blend of partially crushed beans. When it reaches a medium paste consistency, remove from heat and set aside in a bowl or container. The beans can be made a day or two in advance and kept in the refrigerator.

For the onions:

Same non-stick skillet used for the sauce and the beans

Same spoon or spatula used for the beans

4 cups sliced onions (cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into semi-circles)

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. sugar

Olive oil to coat bottom of pan

Heat the skillet and add olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the onions and, while stirring, reduce heat to medium-low and cover tightly. Let the onions sweat down until soft, checking and stirring occasionally. Do not let them burn. Adjust the heat as necessary.  When the onions have softened, remove the cover, raise the heat and continue stirring.  Add the sugar and keep cooking until the onions have caramelized. They will reduce to one cup.  Remove from heat and put the caramelized onions into a bowl or container.   The onions can be made up to two days in advance.

Assemble your burritos:

Four whole wheat or white flour tortillas

A medium casserole, sprayed with non-stick spray

375 degree oven

Center right of each tortilla, spread the bean mixture, followed by the onions, the chicken and a tablespoon of the enchilada sauce. If desired, add your favorite non-dairy Monterey jack or cheddar style product. Roll, fold in the ends, and place seam side down in the prepared casserole. When all the tortillas are rolled, spoon the enchilada sauce over the burritos to coat thoroughly and evenly. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. The sauce will look like a glaze. Serve adorned with:

Guacamole: two ripe avocados, blended with ½ tsp. lemon juice and ½ tsp., salt, adjusted to taste;

Your favorite fresh salsas, pico de gallo, and/or salsa verde (Santa Barbara is good);

You favorite non-dairy sour cream;

½ chopped fresh cilantro.

There will be a good amount of enchilada sauce left over. It is marvelous on broiled chicken, grilled meats, vegetarian sandwiches and omelets.

After all, who hasn’t wished for chocolate at breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Serves four hungry people.

By Lisa Dobi

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