Dinner @ 226 - Quick Pickled Red Onions (Part 1)

I have a silly (and slightly annoying) personality trait that compels me to walk away from every meal, brainstorming ways it could have been better.  Fortunately, I don't blab on and on about these improvements for the sake of my family who would surely make me live in the garage with some crumpled up newspapers for blankets if I did so.  After all, a good meal can be ruined by the chef's narrative.

But, in my head they're constantly there.  More heat.  More texture.  Overcooked.  Under seasoned.  Too much tang.  Not enough herbs.  Needs to be fresher.  I want more crunch.  And every so often, I just walk away not being able to precisely pinpoint the shortcomings.  It just wasn't right.  It wasn't enough.

So was the way with my burritos for the last three years.  They're good and I kept making them better.  Everyone eats them and really likes them.  But, a good burrito can take you to a different place, like say the porch of a beach shack in La Jolla, looking out onto the Pacific.  That's what I wanted out of my burritos and I wasn't getting it.  I understand that this is a bit compulsive or obsessive, or both.  But, if I don't set the standards high then what will I work on for the next few decades.  Just leave well enough alone and keep serving the same tired burritos?  Nah.  Not a chance.

Well, it happened last night.  The perfect burrito happened.  It was a fresher, less indulgent version of one I tasted ate every last morsel of in San Francisco last year.  Taqueria CanCun was on Market Street in the Mission District and walking in made me anxious.  I wanted to hide my giant camera and the sign on my head that read "Total Tourist.  From the Midwest.  Where Are The Tractors?  Does Not Know Anything."  The people were ordering in hip lingo that I didn't understand and there was an obvious ritual to seating yourselves but we couldn't catch on to that either.  I muttered something like, "vegetarian burrito, whichever way is most popular and delicious...ummm, por favor." Wet?  Dry?  I don't know, I'm from Ohio.  I guess it didn't matter because the place served up some serious burrito business.  

Little Baskets of Sunshine

1003 Market St.

The burrito was was so great, but only because it had all my favorite elements in and on it.  It broke some burrito rules and made new ones.  It's like they looked at a perfectly great burrito and kept adding elements that would make it greater and greater until there was no place left to go.  The Anxiety Inducing Taqueria CanCun Burrito would be my muse.  And a short six months later, I created my perfect burrito.  It's not the same as the classic Mission Burrito, but it is my lover everything I've ever dreamed of in a rolled up tortilla.

Quick Pickled Red Onions - makes enough for six burritos.  Generally, the burritos in San Fran don't have pickled onions on them.  But, I think every good burrito should.

I fear that if I give you the whole burrito recipe in one post, you will be put off by how many steps there are.  If I told you it was a 30 minute meal, I would be lying and it's most certainly not light on the dishes either.  Remember what I said about "all my favorite elements," that means there's Cilantro Spiced Rice, Cumin Scented Pinto Beans, Enchilada Sauce, Grilled Peppers and Corn, and Pickled Onions.  Not to mention tortillas and toppings.  But, do you think Julia Child whipped up her famous Boeuf Bourguignon in 30 minutes?  Most good food takes time, except this, of course.  You can make many of the elements ahead of time and then assemble and bake for the finale.  We shall start with the pickled onions, which you can use in many applications.  On sub sandwiches, salads, pizzas, or mixed in with any other roasted vegetable, like cauliflower for example.  The rest of the burrito recipe will be coming next week, as to not overwhelm.

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 peppercorns
2 cups water
1/2 a large red onion, thinly sliced

Whisk all ingredients, except the onion, together in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Add onion and let simmer or 3-4 minutes.  Strain and pick out peppercorns.  These onions will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

1 comment:

  1. I have been wanting to make pickled red onions ever since I had them on an everything bagel with salmon, cream cheese, capers, and tomato... then I had them on a grilled white fish sandwich and YUM! The pickled onions made both meals simply perfect! Thanks for the recipe. I never would have thought to put them on a burrito, but that sounds amazing too!