This is one of my favourite recipes: Soft sweet potato chips, refried beans and rice, all flavoured in a garlicky, citrusy mojo de ajo sauce, then wrapped in a burrito. The recipe for refried beans comes from Thomasina Miers’ Mexican Food Made Simple, and in fact the whole dish was inspired by a meal at one of her Wahaca restaurants. It has a few components — cooking the black beans takes hours (though you don’t have to do very much), and you also have to cook the potatoes, rice and make the sauce, but it’s definitely worth it. Besides, you can make everything in advance, so you don’t have to rush around at the last minute. Try it once, and it’ll become a favourite.
Note: Soak the beans overnight in lots of water to speed up the cooking time.
250g dry black beans
2 onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced / 2 TBs garlic paste
2 tsps thyme
A few bay leaves
1 TB sea salt
300g brown rice
1 onion, finely chopped
600ml vegetable stock
Mojo de ajo
1/2 cup (240ml) olive oil
3/4 cup orange juice (360ml)
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup / 120ml / 4 TBs)
8 garlic cloves, minced / 3 TBs garlic paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground oregano
1 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Chunky sweet potato chips
800g sweet potatoes (2-3 potatoes)
6 big tortilla wraps
Start with the beans. Rinse the beans and soak overnight in lots of water if you can. Drain the water, and rinse the beans. Fill a large pot with 10cm cold water, then add the beans.
Add to the pot one diced onion, the thyme, bay leaves and 4 minced garlic cloves (but if using garlic paste, don’t add it at this point. Bring to the boil and cook the beans until soft (2-3 hours, less if you soaked them). Scoop off any white foam that bubbles up, and keep adding water if it’s looking dry!
While you wait, you can make the sweet potatoes, rice and mojo de ajo. Heat the oven to 220C / 200C fan / 390F / gas mark 6 for the tatties.
Start on the rice: Boil the kettle. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat and add the onion. When it’s softened, add the rice and stir to coat the rice in the oil — this stops it sticking together. After a few minutes, add the veg stock — to save time and washing up, I add the bouillon or stock cube to the pan then stir while I add the hot water. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and cover. This’ll be done in 45 minutes — just check on it occasionally to ensure that it’s still simmering, and top up with water if it gets too dry.
Roast the sweet potato: Cut the sweet potatoes into chunky chips, toss in 1 TB of oil plus a little salt and pepper, then spread on a baking tray lined lined with greaseproof paper. They’ll be done in 30-45 minutes.
Make the mojo de ajo: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant and pale brown — not burnt. Take it off the heat, letting it cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the rest of the ingredients, being careful to not burn yersel’.
Once the beans are soft (about 2 hours if you’ve soaked them, or 3 hours otherwise), add 4tsps garlic paste (if using) and the sea salt and cook for another 20 minutes. At this point, the beans are fully cooked, and you could use them like this if you wanted, but it’s much better to turn them into refried beans…
Heat your fat in a big pan on a medium heat — I use a sautee pan — and puree the beans while the fat heats, using a stick blender or food processor. Make sure to include the black bean liquid — if there’s not enough liquid, it won’t blend well. It should be almost like a paste. When the pan is warm, add the rest of the onion and cook until soft. Add the rest of the garlic, plus some salt and pepper. After the garlic’s been on for a couple of minutes, add the bean puree and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes. To stop it catching, stir it regularly and add a little water if it needs it.
The pour the mojo de ajo sauce over the rice and the potatoes, giving them both a good toss to coat them well.
Now all that’s left is to wrap them up! Heat a dry non-stick pan on a medium-low heat. Spoon as much rice, potatoes and beans as you dare onto your wrap, in an oblong shape in the centre of the wrap. Now git it wrapped, and put it in the pan, with the flap on the bottom. This will seal the burrito closed. Now all you have to do is turn the burrito over three or four times every few minutes, to get a nice brown colour on all sides. That’s it!