Hot stuff (tasty, too)

October 10, 2006|by KELSEY LIDZ

If you live in the Hagerstown area, you might be missing out on Chipotle Mexican Grill, a chain of Mexican-style fast-food restaurants. In Columbia, Md., just an hour or so away, Chipotle is a big deal. You only have to dine there once to be in serious danger of developing a severe burrito addiction.

Having lived in Columbia for four years before moving to Boonsboro, I suffered a long and trying withdrawal from my steak and cheese soft taco obsession. For a while, I drove all the way to Frederick to get my fix at the closest Chipotle around. But it was too inconvenient, and driving a half an hour takes away from the excitement of the delicious food, the intriguing artwork, and the funny little stories on the cups.

One night in utter desperation, I decided I might just have to take a shot at making my own Chipotle-style burrito. I didn't have high hopes for mastering the flavorful, zesty chicken, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I was desperate.


I looked up Chipotle recipes online, and found that I was not the only one anxious to replicate the burrito goodness. In fact, there are blogs all over with people exchanging recipes and trying to get as close as they can to Chipotle perfection. Amazed with my discovery, I picked a few out and set off to find the closest match.

I'm not the best cook around, but one recipe turned out particularly good. This marinade was so close, it was almost eerie to the one that I so craved. Certain it was a fluke, I've since prepared this meal several times. Depending on how long you marinate the chicken or pork or steak, and how much cumin, oregano and pepper you put in, you can really make a flavorful, piquant meat to fill your tacos, burritos, salads, etc.

To get the full effect, you can hum the Chipotle jingle while you cook, and load your entree with so many toppings it's hard to fit in your mouth. Or, if you're not missing Chipotle, but just want a good, easy-to-prepare meal, you can skip that and just enjoy the simplicity of this recipe. However you choose to enjoy it, I'm confident that enjoy it you will. There's something about that zesty chicken that's hard to get enough of.

Ancho Chili Marinade for Meat

1 (2 ounce) package dried ancho chilies
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1/2 red onion, quartered
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or small steaks (6 ounces each)

Soak dry chilies overnight in water, until soft. Remove seeds. Place all ingredients except meat in food processor. Pure until smooth.

Spread mixture over chicken or other meats and refrigerate at least one hour, up to 24 hours.

After marinating, heat grill to about 400 degrees, or if cooking on stovetop, heat small amount of oil in skillet or grill pan over high heat. Salt meat to taste (optional), and grill lightly, turning only once, until done - 4 minutes per side for chicken, 8 to 10 minutes per side for 3/4-inch-thick steak.

Recipe will make four burritos.

- Recipe courtesy of Chipotle

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