What Is a Gourmet Burrito?

Cynde Gregory

Most people love a good burrito spilling over with refried beans and guacamole or sour cream. As with other types of gourmet treats, a gourmet burrito is one that takes the ordinary, everyday dish and transforms it to greater heights by using the highest-quality ingredients available, regardless of cost. In addition to refried beans, sour cream, and guacamole, a gourmet burrito might include steak or ground round, pork loin, chicken, or even seafood such as shrimp or sea bass. There is no single definition for what constitutes a burrito that is truly gourmet, however. The proof is in the taste buds of the lucky man, woman, or child who consumes it.

Jalapeno peppers are a common ingredient in burritos.
Jalapeno peppers are a common ingredient in burritos.

Vegetarians, too, can enjoy a gourmet burrito by substituting nonmeat sources of protein such as fried tempeh cut into strips or ground as a hamburger alternative. Tofu, made from soybeans, can also be used, and seiten, a prepared wheat gluten product with a meaty taste, also works well. Veggies and carnivores alike can dress a gourmet burrito in salad fixings like shredded lettuce, chopped heirloom tomatoes, and any other veggie that sounds good.

Guacamole is used to make a gourmet burrito, which can  also include steak or chicken.
Guacamole is used to make a gourmet burrito, which can also include steak or chicken.

Most burrito aficionados would point out that a gourmet burrito must sport a gourmet salsa, either homemade or purchased from a source that sells it freshly composed. This is where the gourmet-o-meter swings off the chart because there is an almost infinite number of ways to combine foods into a perfect salsa. Most salsas begin with tomatoes, and many gourmet salsas use fire-roasted ones. Corn, black beans, and garlic are common partners, but fruits such as pineapple, mango, or peach can also jump into the fun. Gourmands usually include cilantro and some source of heat, such as chipotle or jalapeno peppers, too.

A gourmet burrito may feature free-range chicken grilled with spices.
A gourmet burrito may feature free-range chicken grilled with spices.

Some gourmet burrito fans claim that any burrito worthy of the name must contain sautéed onions, garlic, and green or red peppers. This adds another step to the cooking and burrito composition process, but for those to whom these sautéed additions are a firm requirement, the extra effort is worth it. Another extra that helps boost a plain old burrito to the heights of gourmet glamor is lightly browning the burrito shell over an open flame for a minute or so on each side.

Gourmet burritos feature high-quality ingredients.
Gourmet burritos feature high-quality ingredients.

Part of the perfect gourmet burrito is in the presentation. It’s important that the cook understands a burrito shell, even the large size, can handle only a few dollops of food. The more ingredients used to create the burrito, the smaller those helpings need to be. That way, when the burrito is rolled up into a handy pocket, everything stays inside instead of oozing over the diners’ hands and into their laps.

Burritos are frequently served with sour cream.
Burritos are frequently served with sour cream.

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