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Chicken Burritos - need seasoning ideas

I'm going to poach some breasts for burritos, but I want to make a flavorful, slightly spicy sauce for the shredded chicken to combine with.

Any ideas of what I should flavor it with? I was thinking cumin, maybe lime...then I ran into a brick wall.

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  1. Hi QueenB

    Do you have any ancho chili powder on hand? A Tbs or more of the canned ancho chili sauce would be good too if you don't have the powder. If you have a can of undrained black beans, the liquid could be a good base to start the sauce. Some peppers (bell or otherwise) roasted and then pureed would also be a nice addition along with finely chopped sauteed onion. Just a few ideas to help you keep moving! Let me know what you end up with. I like playing around with chicken and mexican flavors too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ExercisetoEat

      I do have ancho chili powder (thank you Penzey's!). I have a can of pinto beans which I was going to sort of smash up and put in the burritos. Thanks for the ideas!

      I also have salsa verde that I was going to serve with it, but if I make more of a sauce, as opposed to a coating, I shouldn't need it.

    2. In addition to cumin, lime, and chili powder, I'd also add garlic and a little oregano. If you really insist on poaching the chicken, reduce the poaching liquid for your sauce to preserve the lovely chicken-y flavor that'll cook out of the breasts. If I were doing it, tho, I'd marinate (or even brine) and then grill quickly until just done, then shred.

      1. Finely diced onion, diced tomato, bit of tomato paste, a hot fresh chili, chopped up dried chili, cumin, lots of chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper, maybe garlic. This one needs to be cooked down a bit to reduce liquid and integrate flavors. Stick to the poaching of the chicken.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Sam I'm drooling all over the keyboard. Only thing I would change is sub chives for cilantro, because I personally can't handle cilantro.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            This is exactly what I'm going to do. Thank you Sam!

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Ok Sam, so now that I've got the sauce somewhat figured out, how the heck do I poach chicken breasts? I have four on the bone with skin. How long? I'm such a novice at poaching.

              Also, I was going to use canned diced tomato, since that's what I have. Should I drain?

              1. re: QueenB

                Yes, drainmost but not all liquid.

                Funny I don't know how long to poach breasts because I do them so often for different Asian dishes. Ten-fifteen minutes? I bring water to a boil, toss in breasts, let simmer for a bit, and test by slicing one open a bit. Done is when you just git rid of the pink color at the center. Once cooled, shred by hand along the grain.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  I usually find that thin chicken fillets will poach in about 15 minutes.... a bone in breast will proably take 25 minutes. If possible I would suggest filleting it... keeping the bone to poach it.. and then discarding it.

                  By doing thin fillets you are more likely to get it fully cooked & fully tender and less chance of screwing up the tempeture etc.,

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Thanks guys.
                    Sam, could you email me again?

            2. I would use most of what everyone has already told you and also think about using crushed red pepper. Adds some heat!

              1. You said "slightly" spicy, so this may be a bit more than you're looking for. But you could always make some red chile sauce, marinate the chicken overnight in it, and bake it in the oven for about 2-4 hours on 300F-350F. Sort of a carne adovada, but with chicken.

                I've got a batch of pork but marinating thusly in the fridge (going to give it 36 hours). It's good stuff. Great in burritos, with eggs, rice and beans, a side to some green enchiladas, or just in a bowl with a toasted flour tortilla to the side.

                To make the red chile sauce, toast and grind ~1 tbsp. of cumin and 1/2 tbsp. of coriander. Add in 1 tbsp. salt, 2 tbsp. oregano, and 1 tbsp. red chile powder. Meanwhile, toast ~24 New Mexico red chile pods, or the equivalent (I most recently used 16 NM chiles, and filled out the rest with Arbol chiles - a bit hotter). Roast them at 250F for about 10 minutes or so. Remove the stems and seeds (hot enough without the seeds). That's pretty much it for preparation.

                Add 2 cups of chicken broth into a food processor, and add 1/2 can of chipotles in adobo sauce, ~8 oz. of diced green chile, the seasoning mix, ~1/4-1/3 cup lemon juice, and pulse a few times. Now, start adding in the fruit from the seeded, toasted chiles. Process the hell out of it.

                Transfer to a good sauce pan, add ~2 cups water and 3 bay leaves, and simmer 30-45 minutes. Depending on which chiles you use, this sauce can be hot or mild. Also, if you want to cut down on the heat, use fewer chipotles (I like them in there because they give the sauce some smokiness). Mine are always hot as hell, and most folks can't take the heat.

                Edit: How could I forget the garlic!? You need 1 - 2 heads, depending on size. Clean and mash the cloves, and add into the sauce at the same time as the chipotles, seasoning, etc.

                1. Two ideas that I love:

                  1. I made a fantastic quick adobo-style sauce recently. Even if you don't do it tonight, I highly recommend it. Get a package of dried chiles at the Mexican grocery - I think mine were pasilla. I liked the smoky deep red color. Seed these and remove stem and seep them in some boiling water for 20 mins. Then throw the chiles and some of the water (maybe a cup and a half? whatever you want should work) into the blender with some fresh cilantro, maybe a little sugar.

                  Very gently heat on stove and stir in some sour cream for a wonderfully glossy texture. You can control the heat to an extent by removing the seeds initially and then tempering it by adding more of the steeping liquid and sour cream.

                  My guests loved this and seemed to think I had attended a magic cooking course. The color is just divine too. Mmmmm.

                  2. Salsa verde. I love anything tangy. Grab some tomatillos (the tiny green guys with little husks). You can even find them in big groceries now usually. These go into the blender with a bunch of cilantro and some onion and cumin. BLEND. Let this one sit for a day in the fridge for the best results. While this is typically used for enchiladas verdes, I love it in burritos too, with squeezes of lime, lots of sour cream, and some queso fresco.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foxy fairy

                    Both sound good... I would also add nut based sauces like a Green Pipian or Mole Poblano.

                  2. Thank you all for your suggestions. I went with Sam's suggestion and it came out awesome!

                    I ended up poaching the chicken, then cooling slightly and shredding the meat. I made the sauce by cooking half an onion in olive oil until translucent and tender, then adding garlic and chopped dried poblano. I cooked that around until it was fragrant. Added a tablespoon plus a little more of tomato paste and cooked that until it got a shade darker. Then I added one can of chopped drained tomato, some cumin, ancho chili powder, juice of one lime and a handful of fresh cilantro. Cooked it all down for about fifteen minutes and my goodness it smelled great. I tasted it, and it needed...something.
                    So, I dug around and found a jar of Penzey's adobo seasoning. Added a couple teaspoons of that, and it was the perfect addition. A little salt and pepper and it was ready.
                    I combined the chicken with the sauce and served in tortillas with pinto beans, sour cream and cheese.
                    Wonderful! Thank you again!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: QueenB

                      Thank you! Bet you would have been the winner if we had all gone to your place for a chicken burrito throwdown!