Plainclothes Feast

A weekly peek at one dinner table, in the heart of one home, in the center of the country

Potato and Pinto Bean Burritos with Green Sour Cream



If the very title of this post reminds you of Sam I Am, then let me begin by swearing to you that–of all the things I make–this one may be the most consistently popular with the under-eight set (who makes up our majority, both in numbers and in passion).  In fact, I never put the whole container of green sour cream on the table because, if I do, our 5-year-old daughter will slyly dump it all onto her plate and eat it with a fork, leaving far too little for the rest of us.  You can think of the rest of the recipe as a flour tortilla filled with a moderately spicy (though of course you can make it as un-spicy as you like), especially tasty pile of homefries with pinto beans added in for good measure.  (Did you know that when you pan fry them, pinto beans crackle and split open, like a plumply proteinaceous version of popcorn?  You won’t believe it.)

If, like me, you are interested in feeding your family more meatless meals, this is a great option, and it can easily be made dairy-free as well…if you’re into that sort of deprivation.  Personally, I love the bits of cheese that wind up in the bottom of the pan far too much to forego the dairy in the name of living an extra five minutes, but do what you like.

Again, this “recipe” is more a technique than a real recipe, so you can’t possibly mess it up by changing the quantities around.  Unless I’m baking, I never use a measuring spoon or cup.  I just do plenty of taste-testing along the way!

This is what I do:

Potato and Pinto Bean Burritos with Green Sour Cream

5 or 6 nice-sized Yukon Gold potatoes (or small Russets or big red potatoes), washed and cubed into 1-inch pieces.  (If you are using russet potatoes, peel them.)

1 giant can (28-oz)  of pinto beans (or two regular-sized cans), drained and rinsed

1-2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

A dozen green onions, chopped

1/4 cup oil for frying (I typically use olive oil, even though I know that is a very un-chefy choice)

Salt to taste

4 ounces of cheddar, shredded

1/4 cup sour cream

1 cup of herb leaves (cilantro and parsley, in whatever combination you possess)

1 lime, juice of

1 fat clove of garlic, minced through a press

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1/4 teaspoon honey

1 avocado, chopped

8 flour tortillas, warmed in the oven or the microwave

(I realize that is kind of a long list, but most of it comes from the pantry.)

1. Parboil your potatoes in a big pot of salty water.  (They should be barely tender, but not yet soft.  Think al dente.  They will finish cooking in the frying pan.)  Drain them well in a colander.

2. Heat up a super-big skillet and heat your oil to medium-high.  Add your dry-ish parboiled potatoes and let them cook for a few minutes until they look beautiful and brown on one side.  Then give them a flip with your spatula and add in 2/3 of your green onions.  After a few minutes, flip them again.  Then wait…then flip.  When they look so good you can’t help eating them, add your drained, rinsed, and dry-ish pinto beans to the pan on top of the potatoes, and reduce the heat to low. Stir well and add in your chili powder, cumin and a good pinch of salt.  (Be sure to taste so you don’t get it too spicy for your diners’ palates and so that you get enough salt into it to make your efforts worth the trouble.)  Stir it all up to coat the potatoes and beans with the spices and then sprinkle the cheese on top.  Put a lid on it or set a sheet pan over the top.  Leave the heat on very low.  Your filling is finished, though it will continue to get more delicious as it crisps up on the bottom over that very low heat.

3. In a small chopper or food processor, add your herbs, sour cream, olive oil, honey, lime juice, garlic clove, and remaining green onions.  Whizz it all up.  Taste it.  Add some salt and whizz again and taste again.  Adjust according to your tastes.

4.  Fill your warmed tortilla shells with the filling and top with avocado chunks and green sour cream.

Yes, I know that your skillet will be an aggravating mess to clean up, with those bits of cheese stuck to the bottom.  If you want my advice, you should scrape them off with your metal spatula and eat as many of them as you can before you fill it up with water and leave it to soak.  Clean up the rest of the dishes and wipe off the table and it will all likely be softened up enough to wipe out easily.  If not, just leave it until morning.  (If your husband is anything like mine, he will go into the kitchen to make his cup of coffee, curse the mess, and then grumble while he cleans it up himself.  Problem solved.)

By the way, this is what this same dish looks like if you fancy it up a little bit with a whole pile of sauteed vegetables and caramelized onions and feta cheese instead of cheddar.  My hunky husband loves it so much, this is what he requested for Valentine’s Day:



4 thoughts on “Potato and Pinto Bean Burritos with Green Sour Cream

  1. Pingback: Burrito Bowls | Plainclothes Feast

  2. Here’s my 3rd comment. I am kinda stalking your blog right now. 🙂 Wondering if you’ve found a decent premade tortilla around here? I can’t seem to find a whole wheat one without hydrogenated soybean oil etc. I know I can make my own but that’s not always appealing.

    • I have always wanted a stalker!

      Who wants to make their own tortillas? I think I’ve done that like twice…and I may never do it again. I can’t say I’ve looked for a good-quality whole wheat one. I’ve totally embraced white flour, for better or worse. BUT, I’ve noticed that a “Tortilleria” has opened up on 25th street, and you should totally check it out and tell me how it is. It’s in that strip mall on the corner of 25th and Central. To my knowledge, it is the only tortilla bakery around. Even if they’re just making corn tortillas with Crisco, at least they won’t be full of preservatives…Right?

      • They have good ones at Blooming foods but, alas, not quite worth the gas. I’ll have to check out the totillaria. 🙂

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