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Back To School With a Giant Batch of Chicken Salsa Verde Burritos

I have a cooking demo coming up this weekend at Harbourfront for the Hot and Spicy Festival where will talk about Blend and Extend while serving up my Mushroom Beef Kofta. To freshen your memory, Blend and Extend is a marriage between Mushrooms Canada and Ontario Beef where you replace a portion of ground beef with ground mushrooms in your recipes. This makes your meat go farther, cuts out lots of saturated fat, adds a portion of vegetable to the dish and really just lightens up whatever you are making. Because of this, my brain is on a full on blend and extend, mushroom trajectory.

Now, The Kid has been gainfully employed all summer long at Harbourfront as a nerd camp counsellor but because his bento doesn't fit in his Murse (ManPurse) that he takes to work, he has been taking a smaller lunch bag with only cold items. It has been the summer of sandwiches for the poor, young soul who has had to learn to love sandwiches in a hurry.

School starts next week and school means his big backpack returns and that means the bento reappears so we can pack hot lunches again. In the spirit of full disclosure, my freezer stash is now pretty empty and if I don't get a move on, he will have to eat fries and gravy for the next couple of weeks and I will lose my shiny, mom badge if i let that happen.

That is what finds us here, in need for lunches so I decided to make a huge batch of burritos for him.  I wasn't sure what kind of burritos I would make until I went to the market and when you find fresh poblano chilis AND fresh tomatillos there, you really have no other choice but to buy them, right? Instead of making my standard Chili Verde (usually the result of finding those two items at the same time) I decided to use up a big package of frozen chicken thighs so I could blend and extendasize them.

Because I am not a huge burrito lover, myself, I ate some of the filling on a bowl of rice with a bit of pico de gallo and queso fresco and it was equally delicious that way too so keep that in mind because this makes a big batch of chicken. I was quite happy to have a bit leftover to keep for myself.

Chicken Mushroom Salsa Verde Burritos

I got about 10 large burritos using 12" wraps

*Ground Chicken/Mushroom with Salsa Verde
I like to grind my own chicken using the attachment on my Kitchen Aid but you can also just buy ground chicken

1 kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs OR ground chicken
1/2 kg (500g) white button mushrooms
650 g fresh poblano chilis ( or a 480g can)
380g tomatillos  (or a 1lb/12oz can)
1/2 head garlic
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
pinch kosher salt
1 onion, chopped
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbls cumin

If you are using thighs, grind them in your meat grinder and put the ground chicken straight into the fridge to keep very cold.

Wipe your mushrooms clean and halve them. Pulse the mushrooms in the food processor until they are finely chopped and set aside.

If using fresh poblano chilis:
Preheat oven to 425F
put the whole chilis on a parchment lined baking pan and roast for about 35 minutes. After they are blistered and soft, put them in a bowl and cover tightly. Let them rest for at least ten minute before removing seeds and skin and chopping.
If using canned, drain and chop.

If using fresh tomatillos:
Preheat the broiler and put the tomatillos and unpeeled garlic cloves on a foil lined baking sheet and broil for about 5 minutes, until tomatillos are blistered and browned and then turn and do another 5 minutes on the other side. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.
If using canned, drain and set aside.

At that point, put the tomatillos in the blender with the peeled garlic, cilantro and 1/2 cup of water and pulse until you have a thick puree. Taste, add a pinch of kosher salt and taste again to make sure it is to your liking. Set this chili verde aside.

Heat a large, heavy pan over med-high heat and pour in a good glug of olive oil. Saute the onion until soft before adding in the ground mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they have released their water and they are starting to brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Add another glug of olive oil and add the ground chicken. Cook, stirring frequently, until there is no pink left. At that point, add the mushrooms back in as well as the poblanos, the chili verde, 3/4 cup chicken stock, more salt to taste, freshly ground pepper and 1 tbls cumin. Bring to a boil and then simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 30 to 45 minutes.

When most of the liquid has evaporated and the meat/mushroom mixture is thick, let cool and set aside until you are ready to assemble the burritos.

To assemble the burritos:
*Ground Chicken and Salsa Verde

Cooked and cooled rice ( I used basmati)

Can refried black beans

Pico de gallo or salsa ( made pico by mixing 2 1/2 cups finely diced tomato with a handful of chopped cilantro, juice from 1 lime, minced hot chili to taste, apinch kosher salt and a chopped scallion)

queso fresco , approx 300g (if you like them really cheesy please feel free to add or sub in grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar or any other cheese of your choosing)

10-12 large wraps

For each burrito:

Lay out a wrap
smear a bit of refried beans on the bottom
add about a cup of rice
Spread some chicken/mushroom - depends on the size of your wrap
sprinkle some crumbled queso fresco
scatter a bit of pico de gallo or salsa

For instructions and pictures on how to assemble and freeze them, click here

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