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Football Food: California Burritos

Welcome to this installment of football food.

California Burrito
California Burrito

Welcome to another installment of football food. In the wake of last week's guacamole blue on blue I want to toss out a quick reminder that the real point behind this series is a sharing of ideas. In a perfect world the commentariat will chime in with their own twists on this recipe or maybe even share some related recipes. As a community we can all potentially come away with some new ideas for our respective fall Saturday menus.

As a reminder if anyone has recipes that they would like to submit for this series email me. Seriously. I'm all about getting this series going again but it would be great to get recipes from the commentariat to anchor these posts going forward. Chances are many of us would all like to know how to make some of your favorite football food.

Now let's talk about California Burritos. I have no idea how many burritos I have eaten in my life but I have yet to eat one that I didn't like. The pure simplicity of taking some form of protein and wrapping it in a tortilla with a little cheese, salsa and any other goodness that you can jam in there is pure genius.

I ate more than my fair share of burritos when I was growing up but as an adult I finally made my way to San Diego, California. San Diego is home to what seems like thousands of taco shops that all end in "Berto's." Alberto's, Roberto's, Jiliberto's just to name a few. I loved that about San Diego from day one. The story goes that back in the mid 80's one of those "Berto's" taco shops started tossing a fistful of french fries into their carne asada burritos and the "California Burrito" was born. By the mid 90's every taco shop in Southern California and the Southwest corner of Arizona was selling them.

I had my first California Burrito in 2000 and it has been at the top of my personal burrito pyramid ever since. In the absence of your favorite taco shop, the simplicity of California Burritos makes them easy to prepare for home consumption or for your at your tailgate on a college football Saturday.

Let's get to it.


A dozen burrito sized flour tortillas

2-3lbs of flank steak or skirt steak

French Fries


Pico de Gallo and/ or Salsa

Shredded Cheese

Now let's talk a little more about the assorted pieces and parts. I actually started writing this post last Saturday morning after making a batch of these for myself. By the next morning our own ndmspaint had dropped a FanPost detailing some epic breakfast burritos that he had whipped up the day prior. Interestingly he had essentially prepared both carne asada and pico de gallo as part of his breakfast burrito recipe. I highly encourage you to take a look at his takes on both of those elements of his recipe.

Tortillas: Great tortillas can really make a burrito. Bad tortillas can ruin one. There was a time in my life when I would buy masa de harina and make tortillas myself but that can be a little bit labor intensive. These days I just tend to just buy them in bulk once I locate good ones. I have even been known to have the Coach ship me a few dozen from El Paso when I get into a pinch. So long as you keep them refrigerated they will last for a while. For burritos I want the tortillas to be large and a little on the thick side. They need to be able to carry the load.

Carne Asada: the San Diego taco shops typically use flank steak or skirt steak, but you don't have to limit yourself to those. When I make these at home my going in position is good steak that that can easily be cut into cubes after I pull it off of the grill. I have used everything from New York Strips to Tri Tip. So long as you marinate it well and execute on the grill you are going to end up with a fantastic result.

For the marinade I tend to toss it together without really measuring anything. I like an olive oil base as it helps the marinade cling to the steak and also helps to prevent the steak from sticking to the grill when you cook it. I put what I would guesstimate to be about a half cup of olive oil into a bowl then start the rest of the concoction from there. Finely diced white onion, jalapeno, a few smashed garlic cloves, salt, pepper, cumin, a pinch of sugar, and a couple of squeezed limes will get you there. I typically leave cilantro out but if you like cilantro chop that up and throw it in there too.

Once the marinade is done, coat the steak in it and put it in the refrigerator. You can do this the night prior if you want to be ready to go first thing in the morning. If you are tailgating, you can transport it in a cooler while still soaking as well.

Once it is time to get on the grill just grill the steak how you like it. Medium well, rare, or bloody--this one is totally your call. When grilling the steak for this recipe I tend to cook it a little closer to medium than medium rare just to make sure that I don't end up with pieces that are totally pink after I get done cutting it up. Once your steak is done you are going to want to cut it into cubes. Cutting it into thin strips also works just fine.

French fries: For the fries you can either slice and fry your own potatoes or you can go with the frozen variety. I personally lack the appropriate level of motivation to make my own fries. Either way timing is everything here as you want these to be hot and ready to go when you are ready to start building these burritos. If you are going to tailgate cook these until they are about 3/4 done ahead of time then let them sit out until they cool to room temperature. From there you can wrap them in tin foil and toss them in your cooler. Then while your steaks are on the grill just toss the foil package of fries on the grill with them to warm them up and get them a little crispy.

Guacamole and salsa: I use the recipes that we talked about last week. I know, I know, yours is better. Just have your guac and salsa prepped and on hand when it is time to eat.

Pico de gallo: Some places put pico inside their California burritos and some just have it available on the side. If you want to make your own pico I recommend the following. Dice a medium sized tomato, 1/2 of a white onion, two jalapenos then mix that up in a bowl with a shot of lime juice. Same, same on the cilantro. If you like cilantro throw that in there too. Don't forget to check ndmspaint's version of pico too.

From here the only thing left is quick and simple construction of the burritos. Dump a pile of carne asada on a warm tortilla then put your guacamole on top of the carne asada. Sprinkle that with some shredded cheese and then add a fistful of french fries. If you want to add the pico internally then go ahead and toss that in there too. To finish just wrap it up and enjoy! I like to eat these with salsa and extra guacamole on the side.

Tell us about your favorite game day burrito!