Truly, what is the essential nature of a breakfast burrito? What separates it from a regular burrito? Can’t any burrito eaten before noon be considered a breakfast burrito? Is there a rule that eggs must be involved for anything to earn a spot on a fast food menu before 11 a.m.? What if I don’t like eggs? Am I tethered to the unwritten laws of acceptable breakfast foods? What if I wanted to stuff a burrito with French toast or oatmeal, would this still qualify as a breakfast burrito? Is the definition of the concept truly that it’s what on the inside that matters, or does its identity lie in the fact that you can eat one while driving without pouring hot bacon grease on your crotch? [Ed note: An ex-Austinite Extra Crispy writer defines breakfast burritos as "a very loved and lovable Tex-Mex staple, about as gringo-y as they come" but back to you and crotches, Allison.]
The hard truth: I cannot tell you how to make a breakfast burrito. I feel that we’ve been bound by unfounded regulations for far too long, and to keep perpetuating this myth of “eggs, meat, cheese, potatoes” as an ideal is deceitful and wrong. A breakfast burrito should be one’s cabinet of curiosities: a hodgepodge of ingredients that bring you to life, nestled in a warm tortilla cocoon where it will not be subjected to judgmental eyes. Also: the clean crotch thing. No one wants to get to work looking like they peed their pants, and their pee just happens to smell like cheddar cheese.
Here are guidelines to help you build the breakfast burrito of your dreams–not Big Corporate Burritos'.
The concept of carbs-wrapped carbs may feel excessive, but their role is important. Without some starch to suck up all the errant liquids oozing from various fillings, a burrito becomes a soggy, flaccid mess. We’ve already established why we don’t want that to happen (the stuff about the crotch, in case you forgot).
The popular choice here is some sort of processed potato product: mainly shredded hash browns or, for oh-so-naughty folks, tater tots. Unwritten rules state that rice is meant for afternoon burritos, but not in my book! Microwaved leftover rice give you the perfect base for a drip-proof breakfast burrito.
In Burritoville this is nearly always eggs + bacon/sausage/ham bits. There’s nothing wrong with this combo if it’s your thing. What you must be mindful of is scrambling your eggs. If you’re a breakfast maven you should know that any egg that looks done in the pan will be overdone on the plate thanks to residual heat. In a burrito, you’ve got the residual heat and all that other hot stuff you’re cramming in there, so err on the side of “really runny.” Or, if you’re not digging in right away, toss them raw with the hot fillings and let them cook inside their tortilla prison.
Another good, quick choice for protein? Whatever you have leftover in the fridge. Or deli turkey. Or whatever the hell you want. As long as you slather it with salsa and cheese, it can hang.
You should probably add some so you can say you had a healthy breakfast. Leftovers are good, as is keeping guacamole or fresh salsa on hand for mindless assembly.
There is not a single cheese that is wrong for a burrito, because cheese is never wrong. It’s a total impossibility.
The trick to making the perfect breakfast burrito: Put all your components into a bowl, mix them well, then plop into your tortilla and roll it up just like they do at Chipotle. It won’t look sexy on the inside, but you should be keeping your eye on the road while heading to work and not on your burrito. Mixing will allow the starch and cheese to glue everything together to keep it from falling apart, and make every bite even, which is the number one problem in modern burrito-ing. No more hot sauce oozing out, plops of guacamole on your car’s lovely leather seats, or cheese grease on your naughty bits. It’s going to be a good morning indeed.