Smothered Beef Burritos

I have been wanting to fix this recipe for awhile now and am so glad I finally made the time to prepare it. It is slightly labor / ingredient intensive up front, for preparing the spice blend, cooking up some rice, warming some beans, making the meat mixture, etc. Once you have your components prepared it comes together in a snap and bakes up saucy and deliciously cheesy in the oven!

This is very reminiscent of an enchilada - I think the biggest difference is the rice and beans in the filling mixture, and the fact that the red sauce is more of a gravy then a straight tomato sauce like I'm used to using in enchiladas. This sauce starts as a roux, so is thicker and has a different consistency then enchilada sauce. The spice blend in this recipe is fantastic - it really makes this dish special.

Today is Kent's first JROTC event at school - I am making a double batch of cornbread this morning to take over. Kent is an LE-3 this year; his 3rd year in JROTC and possibly his last, but we'll see. It is a tough class / program, but he really loves the group, and I can tell he feels proud of the accomplishments he achieves as a member of JROTC. I am so, so curious to see what my big boy will decide to do when he graduates... will he decide to pursue the military right away, at all? I know he really likes the idea of it and is currently considering the Air Force, but we'll see what the years bring in time I suppose. It is so hard and so wonderful watching him grow up.

Smothered Beef Burritos from That's Some Good Cookin'

Spice Blend
3 ½ tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Meat
1 1/4 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, medium diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Spice Blend (see above)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups unsalted beef stock

Red Sauce 
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups unsalted beef stock
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 ½ tablespoons Spice Blend (see above)

Additional Ingredients for the Burritos
1 (15-ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups prepared rice
6 large (10-inch) burrito-style tortillas (I used about 8 smaller taco sized tortillas)
12 ounces Colby-jack cheese, grated (or shredded cheddar)

For the Spice Blend:
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Set aside.
  2. For the ground beef:
  3. Use a deep frying pan with a lid to cook the ground beef. Heat frying pan over medium heat; cook together the ground beef, onion and garlic, breaking up the ground beef well. When ground beef is no longer pink, remove pan from burner and drain grease.
  4. Return pan with meat mixture to the burner. Sprinkle with Spice Blend; stir well. Whisk together the tomato paste and beef stock. Pour it over the meat mixture.
  5. Bring meat mixture to a simmer then cover pan, leaving lid slightly askew to allow steam to escape. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, but the meat mixture is still moist. If meat mixture becomes too dry, add a little water or additional stock. While meat is cooking, make the spicy gravy.
For red sauce:
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Make a roux by sprinkling the melted butter with flour and whisking together until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, just until the roux begins to turn a light golden brown and smells nutty.
  2. While whisking briskly, slowly add the beef stock to the roux. Pour carefully to avoid splatters and whisk constantly. Add the tomato sauce and whisk to combine, then add in the spice blend until well combined. Bring sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until gravy has thickened to your preferred consistency.
For the assembly of the burritos:
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Warm tortillas briefly in a microwave, on a microwave safe plate, until lightly warm and pliable.
  3. Working with one tortilla at a time, lay a tortilla in the baking dish (you can use a cutting board if preferred, but I like filling them in the dish to prevent having to move them, and keep the filling more confined); spoon approximately ¼ cup meat mixture, ¼ cup prepared rice and 3 tablespoons black beans a little off center across the tortilla. Fold in tortilla sides, wrap one end snugly over filling and roll up in remaining tortilla, tucking in sides as needed. Place burrito in baking dish. Repeat process with remaining tortillas.
  4. Ladle desired amount of the spicy gravy over the burritos (you may choose not to use it all at one time). Sprinkle the grated cheese over burritos. Place baking dish in oven and cook until cheese has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve with desired toppings such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, sour cream, etc.


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