April 7, 2015 at 3:13 PM ET
Fresh ingredients, made to order, assembled just the way you like them — it's no wonder that Chipotle's endlessly customizable burrito bowls are a crazy popular option for a weekday office lunch or quick dinner. It's almost as good as homemade… but it's not homemade, and with a little advance prep work, you can stock your freezer with the real deal and save a few bucks in the process.
Make your base components — spicy chicken, flavorful black beans and that irresistibly zippy rice — ahead of time, then refrigerate or freeze for pre-layered, ready-to-go burrito bowls you can microwave or reheat on the stovetop. Then top your warmed bowl with fresh tomato and/or corn salsa, sour cream and more. The base recipes double easily for batch lunches or dinners in a pinch.
Make-Ahead Chipotle-Style Burrito Bowls
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes plus freezing time, if desired
PREP YOUR COMPONENTS
1. Make the chicken:
For raw chicken: Cut the chicken into rough 1-inch cubes and toss in a large zip-top bag with the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, garlic, oregano and 2 tablespoons oil. Seal tightly and gently press the bag with your hands to mix the ingredients, then leave at room temperature for 1 hour. (Alternatively, refrigerate the bag for up to 8 hours.)
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add about 1/4 of the marinated chicken cubes — don't crowd the pan, or the chicken will steam instead of brown. Cook, flipping after 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, and transfer to a clean bowl or plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding the final tablespoon of oil as needed. Slice the cooked chicken into small bits.
For cooked chicken: Cut the chicken into rough 1-inch cubes. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, chopped garlic and oregano. Stir together and add the chicken, tossing in the sauce to season and coat the chicken. Transfer to a cutting board and slice the cooked chicken into small bits.
2. Make the black beans:
Heat the oil in a small (1 ½ to 2 quart) saucepan over medium-low heat and add the onion, garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes until the onion begins to soften.
Drain the beans, reserving 1/2 cup of liquid from one of the cans. Add the beans, reserved liquid and adobo sauce to the pan. Stir, then cover and cook for 10 minutes more until the beans are softened and warmed through.
3. Make the rice:
Bring the water, lime juice and lemon juice to a boil in a small (1 ½ to 2 quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add the salt and stir to dissolve, then stir in the rice. Cover and reduce the heat to low.
Cook without stirring or uncovering the pot for about 20 minutes, until the rice is fluffy and has absorbed the liquid. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro.
4. Make the corn salsa:
Toss the corn, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice together in a bowl. Refrigerate up to 3 days, until ready to use.
PACK IT UP TO EAT LATER
If you'll be eating it within 36 hours as a reheatable lunch or dinner: Either refrigerate the chicken, beans and rice in separate containers or pre-layer in single-serving microwaveable containers.
To freeze for later lunches and dinners: Spread the chicken, beans and rice on separate rimmed baking sheets and freeze for 1 hour until each component is frozen through. Either transfer the components to separate sealable freezer bags or pre-layer in single-serving freezer-safe microwaveable containers.
REHEAT AND EAT
The frozen or refrigerated chicken, beans and rice can be reheated separately on the stovetop or in the microwave and layered in bowls, then topped with your favorite add-ins like salsa, sour cream, cheese and guacamole. Or the pre-layered containers can be microwaved for 2-3 minutes (refrigerated) or 4-5 minutes (frozen), then topped with your favorite add-ins.
Tips and tricks for transporting toppings