Pork and pepper burrito paired with Oakham's Scarlet Macaw

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Done right, burritos are a wonderful all-in-one meal. Tender, spicy meat, soft beans, well seasoned rice and enough chilli heat and lime zing to keep your tastebuds firing and help the flavour rise above the rich stodge. Sadly, so many Mexican restaurants fall into the trap of laziness and everything ends up tasting like chilli con carne either wrapped, fried, smothered in cheese, or all of the above.

This recipe Is certainly filling and has all the comfort food satisfaction you love about burritos but with a fresh chilli kick, lime rice and smokey sauce that all combine to give a wonderful balance of flavour - perfectly suited to pairing with the fantastic Scarlet Macaw from Oakham brewery.


Ingredients (feeds 4)

Burrito sauce

  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped green chilli
  • 1 crushed clove garlic
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Tablespoon tomato purée
  • Tablespoon wahaca hot chile de arbol sauce
  • Teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

  • 3-4 pork shoulder steaks, thinly sliced
  • Drained tin of white kidney beans (or other)
  • 4-5 peppers, sliced
  • 1 crushed clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 sliced ripe avocados
  • 100-150g grated mature cheddar cheese
  • 200g basmati rice
  • Bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 fresh lime
  • Plus 4 very large soft tortillas

Start by cooking your rice for about 2 minutes less than the packet instructions say, in plenty of well salted water. Drain and set aside to cool.

Next make your sauce by frying the onion and chopped fresh chilli with a good crack of salt and olive oil. Cover with a lid and sweat on a low heat until very soft and light golden. Add a little pinch of sugar near the end to help them caramelise a little. Next add the crushed garlic, cumin seeds, tomato purée and a good twist of black pepper, cook for another minute or so then add in the tinned tomatoes and wahaca sauce (if you can't get this then add 1 tsp of chipotle paste, one tsp chilli powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin - but really, it's a hero ingredient and well worth seeking out) plus an extra half tin full of water. Let this bubble away then blend to a smooth sauce.

While your sauce bubbles away brown your pork on a high heat in plenty of olive oil along with the chilli flakes and salt and pepper. Once well browned add in your peppers and crushed garlic and toss until softened and a little charred.

Next deglaze the pan with a glug of water and scrape all the bits from the bottom, then add in 3/4 of your burrito sauce and the tin of drained beans. Stir until well combined.

Next the fun (and messy) bit! First add a handful of chopped coriander, fresh black pepper and the juice of half a lime into the rice, stir then spoon onto the four tortillas. Next top with a handful of grated cheese and a big spoonful of the filling mix before a final topping of sliced avocado. Wrap up the burritos and place (tightly packed ideally) into a greased baking dish before topping with the remaining burrito sauce and a final scattering of cheese. Bake on a high heat for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.

Not a simple recipe, but one I can guarantee you will want to make again. It even reheats brilliantly, so prepare to fend off jealous work colleagues loitering around the microwave.

Serve with a simple crisp salad and a large glass of the wonderful Scarlet Macaw.


The beer!

This Oakham beer is just a knockout combination with the burritos. Sweet and soggy hops sacks smack you round the head whilst perfectly judged caramel soothes the lupulin burn on your tongue.

Just when you think it's all over the hops make one last appearance, drying your mouth and leaving citrus peel zest tingling as you contemplate the next sip. Mango, apricot skin, and gooseberry vie for attention in this beautifully balanced beer.

With the burritos it just works, with the spice of the burritos bringing out the sweetness in the beer and the hops dovetailing nicely with the zesty lime of the rice.

Give this one a go guys!


Top five presents for foodies and beer lovers

Sunday, December 08, 2013
Buying presents can be a bit of a nightmare, particularly due to the amount of crap that floods the shops with panicked Christmas shoppers in mind - with row after row of celebrity endorsed Christmas recipe books and tv cooking show tie-ins making it almost impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff.

One thing that makes things instantly easier is to avoid anything Christmas themed. There are loads of good Christmas recipes online and lets be honest, it's one day a year, how useful is 'Gordon Ramsey does Xmas' (or whatever it's called) going to be in the grand scheme of things?

That said, a great food or recipe book is for a foodie a perfect gift. Not least in the sense that it gives you something to read once all the presents are open.

Beer lovers are even harder to buy for, but once again, I'd say avoid anything Christmas themed for a start. With that in mind here are my top five Christmas presents for foodies and beer lovers, in no particular order.

Fuller's Vintage Ale

These make an excellent gift. Well packaged, attractive beers that just look special, and even have a slight Christmas feel with their rich red box. Buy two vintages - perhaps the oldest and newest ones available - and give to any budding beer geek and you'll be extremely popular. A delicious education.

PIE by Dean Brettschneider

This is just a fantastic recipe book, beautifully presented. By focussing on pies rather than a variety of dish types the book is actually given freedom to pull in obscure combinations you might not otherwise have heard of. So yes there's a cracking beef Wellington recipe, but there's also a delicious looking chorizo and monkfish pot-pie and a pear and fennel tarte tatin - recipes which in a less focused book might not have got a look in.

Truman's London Keeper Stout

This stunningly packaged 750ml champagne style bottle would make a perfect gift. Ivory wax dipped and with a letterpress label hand printed by a small London based company, this is truly a thing of beauty - never mind the fact it is the first beer produced from the new home of the recently resurrected Truman brewery. It's a very special beer that any beer lover would love to stow at the back of the cupboard.

Hamburger America

This book is so much more than a guide to the best burger joints in America, it's a poignant history of small town America combined with an at times heart breaking cross section of the changing nature of roadside USA. It genuinely knocked me sideways. So sweet, so personal, and with a genuinely touching story to tell of the mom and pop burger joints across America. So much more than a road guide.

A curated selection of beers

Any beer lover will like to receive interesting beer for Christmas, but it's hard to know what to buy. Though as a rule, nothing in a ' Christmas gift' package. There are lots of great online sellers and some worthwhile shops, so choose a curated, interesting selection, with a theme. The three beers shown are a British imperial stout (Harvey's) a smoked German Marzen (Schlenkerla) and a big, thick imperial stout from Denmark (Mikkeller Black). All big, strongly flavoured and perfect for winter. They fit well together, and I'd day a small considered selection with a theme makes a wonderful gift, as opposed to something a little less personal.


So there you have it. My top picks of presents that are sure to impress.

Merry Christmas!