Monday, May 20, 2013

Smoked Sausage in a Burrito! Why Not?

Recently I began my new travel blog, The Southwest Through Wide Brown Eyes, and I've been busy going through hundreds and hundreds of photos.  I try to choose the ones that, once posted, you can actually see what I'm seeing through my eyes; not just a photo of some place, but the emotions behind seeing it for the first time.  Truth be told, I know for a fact that photos never do a breath taking area justice; but one can only try and, at least, get others interested in visiting and discovering for themselves.

The same can be said for my cooking; at one time, cooking Southwestern or Mexican food was not a consideration I'd make.  Oh sure, if there was a Mexican restaurant around, I'd go to it; or make tacos from some store bought, boxed, name brand, but that was the extent of it.  Since moving out to Utah though, I've taken the proverbial bull by the horns and experimented with the cuisine I was afraid to try from scratch.  It's not just about reading a recipe and imitating it; I research the origins of it, just like I do for my travel blog.  There is more to blogging than posting a photo, putting a name on it and saying, "there ya go, find out your own info cause I know nothing".  I can now make some outstanding Southwestern or Mexican food items, like Enchiladas.  I really thought it would be so very hard, filling the tortillas, rolling them, making the sauce and working with the chilies (fresh, roasted or dried and ground; it's not. It's like with any cuisine really, practice and patience win out at the end of it all.  Well except for Asian cuisine, I'm still struggling with that, but I haven't given up.

Anyway, while watching "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives", Guy Fieri visited a hot dog place that did a hot dog burrito; interesting, but I'm still a hot dog purist: spicy brown mustard and sauerkraut on a toasted split top bun.  Then an idea came to me, what if I replaced that hot dog with a smoked sausage of some type, like kielbasa or bratwurst.  I first asked some people what they thought about the idea, and I got a positive push to begin the experiment.

Johnsonville are the brat masters as far as I'm concerned, so I purchased a package of their smoked ones; basically for convenience and time saving. I split them in half lengthwise and let both sides caramelize a bit on a flat top grill. Since I know how good this little invention of mine tastes, you know I'll be trying it out with fresh, right off the barbecue grill, brats next time. The other filling items were chili made with ground beef and red beans, Frito corn chips (the strips, not the scoops), shredded cheese (Sargento Mexican mix) and an authentic homemade Mexican cheese (Queso Casero). The tortillas were fresh flour, 10 inch in diameter; couldn't find any 12 inch, otherwise I would have put two split brats into each burrito. The tortillas must be fresh, they're more flexible and you need that for the folding process.

The Queso Casero is a homemade cheese that can be made from either cow (smoky flavor) or goat (tangy flavor) milk.  It is a semi-soft, mild, white cheese and does not melt rapidly.  If you cannot find it, or prefer a melted cheese, Queso Fresco is an excellent substitute as it's a soft cheese,  easily crumbles, and is more readily available in supermarkets.

In the center of each tortilla, spread out 1/4 cup of cheese; with the Queso Casero I simply pulled it apart with my fingers into little pieces.  Lay the split sausage on top of the cheese.

Spread a 1/2 cup of chili over the sausage, then another 1/4 of cheese.  While the shredded cheese will melt thoroughly during the grilling process, the Queso Casero will keep its firmer texture for the most part.

The final addition is the Frito corn chips, a 1/4 cup should do it up nicely.

Fold the section of tortilla at the short end of the sausage as far as you can, being careful not to pull too tightly.  You don't want to tear the tortilla, or have the corn chips puncture any holes in it.

Now you want to fold the long ends over, again being careful not to tear or puncture the tortilla.  If the short ends stick out, or become loose, gently tuck them back in.   The burritos are now ready for the grill; I'm using a stove top flat top grill (oiled), but an electric is fine, or you might be daring and use a well oiled barbecue grill.

Place the burrito seam side down first; with the fresh tortillas, they are moist enough that you will not have to spread water around the edges to help seal them shut.  Once browned, turn them over and brown the top side; remove to a plate and either cut them in half, or just pick up the whole thing and take that first big bite.

The Smoked Sausage Burrito

Don't be stuck in a rut by cooking only what you know, or only the cuisine of where you live.  Develop a passion for cooking and travel the world by experimenting with the various food items and cuisines.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour