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Not in MY Mexican Kitchen: Home Made Mission Burritos...

Our story began here:


And ended in typical fashion, with our protagonist facing her greatest enemy, The Fresh-O-Matic 4000.


Most have met me know I’m pretty easy going, cheerful, I like puppies and babies. I don’t really have a hateful bone in my body, except for one thing... I truly hate the The Fresh-O-Matic 4000.

Why? Because it takes one of my absolute FAVORITE foods. A burrito and turns it in a MISSION Burrito... It all started in spring break one year. Knowing my lust for burritos, my dormmate told me she was going to take me to the best burrito stand in the world. It was AWFUL. But I figured an English girl from Milbrae didn’t know any better.

Then, I began to travel to SF on business and co-workers began brining me these burritos (Always stating how they are the best ever...) and they were all all awful. Very quickly I swore off all burritos when visiting SF. Then, a popular Mexican chain opened up near my L.A. office called Chipotle. And that was when I realized how many burritos had gone so terribly wrong... I watched in horror as my Tortilla bypassed the grill and was placed into that steaming monster. When I received my burrito, even after CAREFULLY selecting the yummy lookin ingredients... It was BLEH... bleh...bleh...bleh...

Now that I knew what the true enemy was The Fresh-O-Matic 4000, I vowed never to have a steamed tortilla burrito ever again.

But then the Surfas Sale happened... but then SO always carriess at least $40 bucks in cash... but then, his Mission burrito loving friend who just happens to be getting married next week. And so like all things truly villanous, The Fresh-O-Matic 4000 found its way in my sactuary, my Kitchen...

Because it’s bad karma to give a bride a gift that may burn her house down, I made a deal with my SO... we would use The Fresh-O-Matic 4000...ONCE... to make Mission Burritos ONCE. Who knows, perhaps if I had control over the monster and used REAL home made Mexican ingredients maybe it won’t be so bad.... Yeah, I didn’t have my hopes up either...

And I began by making REAL Mexican Rice. With El Pato Tomato Sauce:


But then I made black beans with lots of garlic and epazote. I grilled marinade chicken and shredded carnitas fresh from the carneceria:


I poured out the taqueria red salsa and chopped up some white onion and cilantro and then set aside some Shredded Cheese (Kraft Mexican Blend, a Treat for SO) and Cream:
I had my workstation all laid out...


SO turned on the beast and I noticed in all my prepping, that the hot items had gotten cold. So I put them in the microwave. And SNAP!! The TV turned off , the Microwave went dead. The Fresh-O-Matic 4000 stood there steaming... taunting... with it’s massive wattage it had caused a circuit to blow in our old apartment. SO went outside and reset it, but not before having me unplug everything else including my microwave. I was steaming!!! He said not to worry, we’d re-heat everything in the steamer...

And so I gave him a tortilla and as he turned to the steamer, The neighbors cat walked right into the kitchen (He’d snuck in after a trip to the fuse box.) SO is horribly allergic, so I gently picked the cat up right when SO pressed down the steam handle and the beast omitted a roaring HISSSSSSS... The cat FREAKED and bolted out of the apartment, but not before leaving me with a bloody scratched up foot. (And strappy sandal season isn’t even over yet :( ) The evil of this machine truly knows no bounds...

FINALLY, with warm tortilla at hand, I began to assemble. Bed of beans, rice, meat, slices of avocado, onions, cilantro, salsa, sour cream, and cheese.


Rolling in traditional half way fold style...


My burrito with cold fillings was done...


We wrapped her up in foil and then placed her on the steamer for a few more pulls of the handle and in a few seconds...


And in typical taco plate style, served her up with a side of taqueria chips...


And so I took a bite... and BLEH... SO laughed, “That is saddest I’ve ever seen you while eating a burrito.”

He talked me through it and asked why I thought it was so bad. I told him the tortilla is bland, doughy and stickey. It’s making the filling, like my ultra spicy Mexican rice taste bland with how pasty it was. He said, flour tortillas don’t have taste... I said, of course they do, when they are done on a comal. It’s like toasting bread. They get body, a taste (especially if the comal has been used to warm up meats), it helps highlight the spicy flavors of a burrito instead of toning them down. When he ate his, he even thought his burrito needed more heat when it had seasoned chicken, spicy rice and a VERY potent salsa already inside...

I think he finally understood, I think I finally did too. As a Mexican I grew up eating Tortillas EVERYDAY. Sometimes several times a day. I know how they should taste. I how they work with the food. To me, eating something with a steamed tortilla is akin to someone giving you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wet bread (And no, I don’t like Tortas or Burritos Ahogadas either). It’s upsetting...

This morning, I awoke and walked to my Kitchen to find the Monster gone. SO had delivered it to the bride with a HUGE silver bow on top (Again... The Irony). And with all the extra meats left over, I decided to bring a Burrito for lunch today. I took out my precious comal and heated the tortilla... and restored balance back to Dommy’s Kitchen...



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  1. Couldn't you just throw the tortilla on the stove-top burner to warm it up? That's what my Mexican grandma used to do.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bostonbob3

      That works for Corn Tortillas (I do that in a house without a comal), but Burrito sized flour tortillas are too big. Most Serious Mexican Home Cooks have Comals however, especially if they make Tortilla from scratch... :)


      1. re: Dommy

        Loved your report, Dommy!

        I've been using my cast-iron crepe pan to heat tortillas. It's the perfect size, and I like the way the cast iron gives the tortilla a slightly toasty flavor.

    2. I didn't know anyone steamed tortillas! I just toast mine over my burner, but I'm thinking maybe I oughta get a comal. Of course they have a taste!!! Anyway, all your fillings looked amazing. Could I get your recipe for the rice you used by any chance? I'm so glad that monster is out of your kitchen!

      6 Replies
      1. re: prunefeet

        Comals are definatly the way to go when heating tortillas! Especially heating a lot of them. As you can tell, my Comal is actually a Calphalon Griddle, so it can have many uses... I use my Comal to make Pancakes too... YUM!! :)

        As for the rice, it's VERY simple Here is the recipe for 1 cup of uncooked rice...

        Just heat up some olive oil in the pot under a medium low heat and add in about a quarter of a large chopped onion. Sweat the onion until translucent. Then, add a cup of white rice (Long grain, NOT converted/enriched, Uncle Ben's won't do) and toast in the oil and onion until a bit brittle, but not golden.

        Add a cup and half of water and a can of El Pato Sauce (I like the one in the yellow can that is shown... VERY spicy, but good flavors too). You can also add Carrots, Corn, Peas, anything else you'd like in Mexican Rice. If you are using plain tomato sauce, add a WHOLE serano chile (This will add spice, but not make it CRAZY spicy).

        Let the water and Tomato sauce come to a boil and then cover and simmer down to low. Keep a little water at hand (I use the El Pato ) incase it starts getting to dry. When the rice is JUST About done, place some Cilantro on top and turn off the heat. The steam will continue to cook the rice and the release the cilatro essence to scent the rice.


        1. re: Dommy

          Thanks for your rice recipe.

          How long do you let the rice simmer -- 20 minutes?

          And after you add the cilantro and turn off the heat, how long do you let the rice steam/rest?

          I'm kind of a novice cook and tend to rely on my timer more than my eye/feel. Thanks in advance.

          1. re: Norm Man

            Gosh, you know, I've never timed it... I'm actually a more touchy feely cook than a recipe one. That is also why I gt a pot set that had glass tops, so I could see when something needs more water without letting vapor escape. I say, check every 10 minutes, if you see it needs more water, add it.

            As for the cilantro steam, you will want to let that rest, again covered, for about 10 minutes. Till you see water droplets form on the pot lid....


          2. re: Dommy

            Thanks so much, I'm definitely going to try this out.

            1. re: Dommy

              Well I am trying your recipe just now, with some special 'white man' Central California redneck flair:

              3/4 onion
              3 Tbsp. chopped garlic
              1.5 shots bourbon for 'mellowing'
              3 cups rice
              4.5 cups water
              3/4 27 oz. big can El Pato sauce (save the rest for moistening, etc.)

              I'll report back in an hour how it turns out in my burrito-making spree.

              Thanks for the recipe,

              1. re: Matt Hall

                Well, I did it, the flavor is good but I'll need to make the following tweaks:

                ~2 cups less water
                ALL of the El Pato
                toast the rice, garlic, and onions longer in the olive oil and bourbon
                TONS more cilantro


          3. I'm glad there was a happy ending!

            1. Worse than the taste (or lack thereof) is the rubbery texutre. Bleck!

              Glad you have your comal back in action :).

              1. Eating a steamed tortilla is like eating a piece of wet white bread.

                1. Good story Dommy! The horror, the horror... ;-)

                  1. You got a Fresh-O-Matic in good condition for $40!?!?!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Yup... you can even kinda see the price in grease pen in the first picture of it... LOL!!

                      Anyway, the first link tells the story on how we got it for so cheap. It truly was a situation that probably the devil himself would be proud of and probably will never happen again.

                      We did clean it up nice and new before we delivered it to the Bride. SO said she was BESIDE herself when he showed up with it... but if for some reason we get it back, I'll let you know when I put it up on the Ebay...

                    2. Very upsetting to be wounded before strappy sandal season is done. Very amusing story. After that, and using quality ingrediants, I wouldn't have high hopes for your burrito expedition in SF. None of the ingrediants there sound anywhere close to as good as what you made.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rworange

                        Yeah, athough we'll still end up going because SO REALLY misses them. But I was given lots of hope when SO made his Mission Burrito Post on the SF board and most of the recs where for places that DIDN'T use the steamer... LOL!! :)


                      2. Oh, how I laughed and laughed. I'll have to show this to my own SO, who's been wondering where in LA to get a Mission Burrito. "Just don't" is my answer.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Pei

                          Glad you enjoyed it!! Although SO was pouting, Et tu Pei.... ;) LOL!!! How about this, we drop off our SO's at Chipotle where they can pay $8 for their gummy Nieman Ranch burritos and we can go to Tacomiendo and have PROPER moster Carnitas burritos for $4... ;)


                        2. Oh my! that was too funny.

                          My mother never made rice with El Pato though she does use it to spice up BBQ sauce. I'll have to try that.

                          Your carnitas and chicken look delicious. Can we have recipes for them? Since I moved to Houston I haven't been able to find good carnitas and mom's in Los Angeles. I have to make my own.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tlegray

                            Thanks! Sadly, the chicken comes pre-mariaded at the carneceria. It's close to the "El Pollo Loco" marinade recipes that you can find on-line. Also, the chicken was mostly boneless thighs, so it held up really well to high heat grilling and stayed very moist.

                            As for the Carnitas, they also were bought at the Carneceria already prepared by the 1lb. When I have the time, I do mine at home using the 'short' cut method. I fill my dutch oven with big chunks of pork shoulder and add water mixed with orange juice, orange zest, cumin and oregano and a small amount of salt. Just enough of this mixture to cover the meat. Then, I leave the lid ajar (So that a little vapor escapes) and let it simmer for about an hour.

                            Then, I take off the lid and let the rest of the water evaporate. Depending about on the amount of pork, this can take for 2 to 3 hours...

                            Then, right when all the water is all gone, add a spoon full of lard and crisp up the chunks (The chunks so be tender, so do this quickly!

                            Glad you enjoyed the post... SO has been pouting about it all day... LOL!!


                          2. Very nice report Dommy!

                            1. Great tale, Dommy! Filled w/ ambivalence, suspense, and horror. I'm w/ you on this one!

                              A very important question: What brand of flour tortilla does a Mexican gal who grew up eating tortillas several times a day allow into her kitchen?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                As noted below, Mission Tortillas are HORRID!! ;P Sadly my Mexican market doesn't made their own, so for this experiment, I used Guerrero...


                                I always liked this brand for flour tortillas, as a little kid, I fell for the trap of them touting themselves as "Riquisimas", which loosely means "The Yummiest!!"(I also find their whole wheat tortillas really tasty!)

                                For corn, I perfer the ones my market makes (They also make wonderful yellow corn, Guajillo and Jalapeno Tortillas!). For major brands, Tia Rosa makes great soft ones. Sadly though, no American brand even comes close to the ones we'd get in Mexico fresh from the bakery. Small (about teacup saucer size) and delicate like tissue... I hope that some day a Mexican is smart enough to bring that type of tortilla here one day....


                                1. re: Dommy

                                  Dommy, I hope that you're aware that both Mission and Guerrero tortillas are made be the same large company (Gruma Corp). After tasting local brands I'll NEVER buy these except in a dire emergency.
                                  What do you think of Diana's brand (Norwalk, CA based) - readily available here south of I10...

                                  1. re: DiveFan

                                    Yup, I am aware. I was a food consultant for brands that probably make up 50% of your pantry... (Every aisle in the grocery store has a'baby' of mine in it! :))

                                    Sadly the Gigante only had Guerrero and Mission in Burrito Size. :( I have tried Diana's corn tortillas... they are pretty good, but I like Tia Rosa better... and Tia Rosa is owned by Bimbo (Mexican company) who also happens to own Orowheat and Miltons. My BIG client owned a very small, local handmade chocolate boutique and the #1 candy bar in the world... The 'Web' of corportations run DEEP... but there is a difference between brands and their recipes/manufacturing. The idea of running two or more similar brands that sell basically the same thing is that consumers LIKE choice and have DEFINED perferences. So you can have a monopoly without anyone anyone being none the wiser... ;)


                                  2. re: Dommy

                                    Thanks, Dommy! For flour tortillas, I used to buy Guerrero when we lived in LA, but now I buy a brand called Rosa (not to be confused w/ Tia Rosa) that is made locally in Santa Cruz County. Very creamy and nice when toasty on the outside...

                                2. Fantastic story, Dommy. I agree those gummy steamed SF burritos are truly vile. Even more nightmarish was one I sampled that had shredded lettuce in addition to the 5-too-many ingredients. As if the steaming didn't make the tortilla enough of a soggy mess! I don't bother with Mexican food when I am visiting SF and just bide my time for a trip back home to ELA. Our family uses El Pato for arroz too, with a little onion and sometimes peas or carrots.

                                  Fresh tortillas a mano are always best, but among store-bought brands, I like La Reina and La Gloria brands. They are widely available in the Los Angeles area but not if sure elsewhere. Avoid the very institutional tasting Mission brand tortillas at all costs.

                                  1. Great story and looking forward to trying your rice recipe. I'm very rice-challenged, just totally terrible at getting any kind of rice to come out edible no matter how precisely, or not, I follow a recipe, package instructions, whatever.

                                    It's funny about El Pato. I'm a nice-Jewish-girl-from-L.A. and I was introduced to El Pato (yellow can) by my nice-Jewish-girl-from-San-Diego roommate at UCSB 30 years ago. She taught me how to make her ground beef taco meat, and I still make it. The "recipe" is just a short list of spices, El Pato, longhorn cheese, onion and meat, no precise amounts, I've been winging it all this time and it's always great. I've been buying El Pato ever since, in regular grocery stores in Berkeley and Los Angeles. My local Gelsons in Sherman Oaks carries it. But I never see anyone else buying it.

                                    1. could the fresh-o-matic be used to cook tamales? or is it not meant to be on so long?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: toodie jane

                                        No, it's strictly a 're-heater' type of machine. It's not very smart... it just heats up water REALLY fast (That is why it takes so much electricity, it is ready to go in 5 minutes!!) and then you pump the amount of steam you want. It's not very smart...


                                      2. Dommy, what are the primary seasonings in the pork that you buy? I am making burritos tonight, thanks to you. I can't wait.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Becca Porter

                                          Sorry for the late reply, but I actually got back from Mission Burrito Land... SF!! :)

                                          But if you are asking for the store bought carnitas, the only thing they add is pork parts, salt and lard and cook it down. That is why in the picture you can see their great caramelized crust... Yummm...

                                          For the pork I do at home, a few posts above I give directions on how I do my own Carnitas with Orange Juice and Cumin. I also recently got a recipe to make it Coke, which is very popular in Mexico... I am planning to do that soon and will report back! :)