Super Bowl Recipes: Oven-Baked Mini-Chicken Burritos

Game day with our friends means feeding between four and 40 football fans, so I always look for Super Bowl recipes that are easily adjusted for crowd size, can be either made entirely ahead of time or at least prepped beforehand, will stand up to a hungry stomach after a few beers and, most importantly, are simple enough to serve and to eat without the food distracting from even just one second of the game. If you have to look down while noshing and risk missing Aaron Rodgers being sacked by James Harrison for a 15-yard loss or, conversely, a toss to Greg Jennings for a 23-yard gain on third down, then it's not a snack to be served during football. It is with good reason that guacamole and pizza are popular during the Super Bowl while escargot and Baked Alaska are not. Who wants to mess with snail tongs when you have perfectly good hands and are trying to hold on to your margarita with one of them?

I've long contended that throwing a great Super Bowl party is up there with hosting a Thanksgiving dinner and should be treated in a similar manner, a belief backed up by a survey to be released on Wednesday by The Hollywood Reporter and the marketing research firm Penn Schoen Berlandis. Their online survey found that in American males between the ages of 13 to 64, men look forward to the Super Bowl more than any other day of the year except for Christmas. More than their birthday, more than their anniversary and more than Thanksgiving, while a whopping 68 percent of American women plan on watching the Super Bowl. So spend some time early this week planning out your full Super Bowl menu and you'll have a party just as good -- if not better --  than any catered luxury suite in the stadium. One or two main dishes, two or three sides, a couple of snacking items and a dessert and you'll have a buffet that will carry your party through all five hours of coverage.

One of the easiest and usually best-received main dishes we've made around here for the Super Bowl are Oven Baked Mini-Chicken Burritos. They're crunchy like a chimichanga without all the hassle of deep frying. Meaty, cheesy and, best of all, can be made a head of time and baked when you want them.

You will need:

- 2 to 3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken. You can either buy a whole roasted chicken at the deli and shred all the meat off the bird, or roast about a pound and a half of boneless chicken -- dark meat, white meat or a mix of both, it doesn't matter -- in a 325º oven for about 30-40 minutes until completely cooked.
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1  to 1 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 3-4 roasted red peppers, about half of a 16 ounce jar, drained and chopped
- 1/2 yellow or white onion, chopped
- 1 cup salsa verde
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, to taste
- 1 egg white
- 30-40 fajita sized flour tortillas
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
- Salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro and chips for serving.

In either a large bowl or in the pan used to roast the chicken, combine the shredded chicken, black beans, Monterey Jack cheese, roasted red pepper, onions, spices, salt and pepper. Toss well to ensure even seasoning.

In a dry skillet, heat the tortillas for a few seconds on each side so they're easier to fold into a burrito and so they get extra crunchy when baked.

Spoon a teaspoon or so of the salsa verde in a line down the center of the warmed tortilla and then layer a couple of tablespoons of the chicken, cheese and bean mixture on top of the salsa. Brush the edges of the tortilla with egg white to help "glue" your burrito closed, fold over the sides and then seal down both ends to form a small envelope of goodness. Set on a lined baking sheet and keep going until you run out of filling. You should get about 30 to 40 mini-burritos out of a batch, depending on how full you fill each one.

You can either bake these right away, refrigerate for 24 hours or freeze for up to a week ahead of time. When ready to serve, position the rack in the top third of the oven -- you don't want to burn the bottom of your burritos --  and preheat to 400 degrees. Brush each burrito with vegetable oil or melted butter and bake until golden brown and puffy, about 15 to 20 minutes for fresh burritos and 25 to 35 minutes for frozen, depending on how hot your oven runs.

Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, sour cream, cilantro and guacamole.

Baked_mini-chicken_burritos-bottom_medium

Sarah writes about sports, food and Los Angeles at sarahsprague.com.

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