Smoky Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burritos

Smoky Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burritos
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About This Recipe

In the heart of California’s wine country, a culinary gem awaits: the Smoky Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burrito. Rooted in traditional Mexican cuisine, the chicken al pastor is an iconic dish that has been embraced and slightly reimagined by food enthusiasts all over the Napa Valley. This particular rendition introduces a smoky flair, thanks to the delightful chipotle, which imparts a warm, deep flavor profile reminiscent of the picturesque vineyards at sunset.

Now, when we talk about chicken al pastor, we often envision marinated, tender strips of chicken slowly cooked on a spit, with juices dripping and flavors melding. The secret to this al pastor chicken recipe lies in the marinade—a delightful blend of spices, chipotle peppers, and, in true Napa fashion, a hint of wine for added depth. Wrapped in a soft tortilla and accompanied by vibrant toppings, every bite of this burrito transports you to a quaint Napa bistro.

And what’s a meal in wine country without the perfect wine pairing? Given the robust flavors of our burrito, choosing the ideal wine is paramount. Enter Grenache, a wine characterized by juicy red fruit flavors with subtle peppery undertones. The medium body of a Grenache, particularly one from the revered Tablas Creek Vineyard, beautifully complements the chicken without overwhelming it. Another worthy choice hails from Amapola Creek Vineyards and Winery, where the wine showcases the richness of Sonoma's terroir in every sip.

However, for those who prefer a bolder companion for their meal, Zinfandel stands as a formidable contender. Its zesty, blackberry-infused taste resonates with the smokiness of the chicken and the hint of sweetness from the toppings. A glass from Turley Wine Cellars or the iconic Ridge Vineyards - Lytton Springs is bound to elevate your burrito experience, adding layers of flavors that dance harmoniously with every bite.

Napa and Sonoma aren’t just about wines, though. The regions are also a testament to how global culinary traditions can be intertwined with local flavors. The Smoky Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burrito is a symbol of this fusion—Mexican heritage blended with Californian innovation. It’s not just a dish; it’s a story. A story of farmers, winemakers, chefs, and locals, all coming together to celebrate a shared love for food and wine.

If you find yourself wandering the charming streets of Napa or Sonoma, be sure to stop by local eateries and explore their interpretations of al pastor chicken. While the recipe might slightly vary from one establishment to the next, the essence remains the same—a tribute to tradition, with a hint of the unexpected.

In conclusion, whether you're a local or a visitor eager to explore the culinary wonders of Northern California, the Smoky Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burrito encapsulates the spirit of Napa. Pair it with the recommended wines, and you're in for a gastronomic adventure that's as captivating as the rolling vineyards and majestic sunsets of wine country. So the next time you’re thinking of a meal that embodies the soul of Napa Valley, remember the chicken al pastor, wrap it in a tortilla, pour yourself a glass of Grenache or Zinfandel, and savor the magic of Californian cuisine.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Chipotle Chilies

The Heat Behind the Smoky Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burritos

Dried chipotle chilies are the star of this dish, offering a smoky flavor with a hint of heat that elevates the burrito's taste profile. Native to Mexico, these chilies are essentially smoke-dried jalapeños. Their unique taste comes from the smoking process, which imparts an earthy, tobacco-like heat with a subtle sweetness. When rehydrated and blended into the marinade, they create a deep and flavorful base that allows the chicken to shine.

How to Rehydrate Dried Chipotle Chilies

  1. Select Fresh Chilies: Start with dried chipotle chilies that are pliable, with a smooth skin.
  2. Soak in Warm Water: Place the chilies in a bowl and pour warm water over them until they are submerged.
  3. Wait Patiently: Allow the chilies to soak for about 20-30 minutes. They should become soft and pliable.
  4. Remove Stems and Seeds: After soaking, take out the chilies and discard the stems. If you prefer less heat, scrape out the seeds.
  5. Blend or Chop: Use the rehydrated chilies as your recipe directs. For our burrito, they will be blended into the marinade.

FAQs About Smoky Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burritos

  1. Can I substitute another type of chili for the chipotle? While chipotle chilies give a distinct smoky flavor, you can substitute them with dried ancho or guajillo chilies for a different flavor profile.
  2. I'm allergic to pineapples. Can I use a different fruit? Absolutely! Mango or peach puree can provide a similar sweetness and acidity to the marinade.
  3. Can this recipe be made vegetarian? Yes, you can substitute the chicken with portobello mushrooms, tofu, or tempeh marinated in the chipotle mix.
  4. How long can leftovers be stored? Leftover cooked chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  5. What's the best way to reheat my burrito? To maintain the tortilla's texture, it's best to reheat the burrito in a skillet over medium heat until warmed throughout.

Making Your Chipotle Chicken Burritos Perfectly

  1. Marinate Overnight: For maximum flavor, let the chicken marinate in the chipotle mixture overnight. This allows the smoky and spicy flavors to deeply penetrate the meat.
  2. Customize Your Fillings: While the recipe provides a set of fillings, feel free to customize. Consider adding sautéed bell peppers, red onions, or even some roasted corn for added texture and flavor.
  3. Crispy Finish: After rolling your burritos, grill them on a hot skillet or griddle. This step gives the tortilla a delightful crispy texture, adding another layer of complexity to your dish.

With these insights and tips, you're well-equipped to master the Smoky Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burritos. Happy cooking and savoring!

Recipe Overview

Smoky Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burritos
Lily Anderson
4-6 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 3 dried chipotle chilies, rehydrated and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Large flour tortillas
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the chipotle chilies, pineapple juice, vinegar, garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
  2. Place chicken in a large bowl and pour the chipotle marinade over it. Ensure all pieces are well-coated. Marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Remove chicken from the marinade (discard the marinade) and cook until fully cooked and slightly charred on the outside, about 7-8 minutes on each side.
  4. Once cooked, let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing it into thin strips.
  5. To assemble the burritos, lay out a large tortilla and layer with rice, beans, chicken, pineapple chunks, cilantro, avocado slices, cheese, and sour cream (if using).
  6. Fold in the sides of the tortilla and then roll it up tightly. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  7. For an extra touch, you can grill the rolled burritos on a hot griddle or skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side until crispy.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

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