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Grilled Chicken Burritos with Francesco's Fantastic Spice Rub

July 8, 2020

Serves 6-8

My brother sent me this spice rub recipe some time ago and I curse myself for not trying it sooner. Ugh. Maybe that's a little harsh? But, it's that good. We ate the leftovers for days. This is a perfect dry rub for summer and it's incredibly versatile. You can use it on chicken, beef, or fish. Heck, you could even mix it into burgers, or make it vegan and sprinkle it on chunks of firm tofu. (No need to mix with oil if you're adding it to your ground beef.) If you have the time, marinate the chicken in the spice rub over night. You will get much more flavor that way.

I used the recipe as described by my brother, added some of my own tweaks, and made burritos. I used Trader Joe's flour tortillas. You can make your own from scratch or buy your favorite brand. Corn or flour, what does it matter? I remembered my delicious turmeric rice and thought that would work nicely with these flavors. A simple red cabbage slaw and cilantro crema sealed the deal for me. Such great flavors with the sweetness from the curry powder and togarashi (a Japanese spice blend that can best be described as a toasty, sweet spice experience), brightness of the lime juice, heat and warmth from the coriander and cumin, and creaminess of the cilantro crema. A perfect union. You can also skip the whole burrito bit and eat the grilled chicken with fresh summer corn, potato salad, or any of your favorite sides. 

*The addition of togarashi is optional but if you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend it.



2 tablespoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (I use S & B)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon togarashi (optional)

juice and zest of one lime

1 tablespoon neutral oil (I use avocado), adjust if needed

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled, for the burrito assembly


Mix all the spices, zest, juice, and oil together so that they become a wet paste. You may need to add a little more oil, just keep in mind that you want to be able to rub it all over the chicken pieces so they are well coated.

Rub it all over the chicken pieces until they are well coated. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.



2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup long-grain rice (jasmine, basmati)

pinch of salt to taste

2 cups water


Melt the butter in a medium pot over low heat, add the turmeric, red pepper flakes and salt and stir to combine. Add the rice and stir to coat.

Pour the water into the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to the barest of simmers, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Do not remove the lid!

After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit another fifteen minutes with the cover still on. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and taste and correct for salt.



1 small head red cabbage, shredded

juice of one lime

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper


Mix everything together, taste and correct for salt. Set aside.



8 ounces Mexican Crema, (I use Cacique), or sub with crème fraîche

Juice of 1 lime

1 heaping cup cilantro, roughly chopped, plus more for topping

1 serrano/jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and roughly chopped

2 teaspoons honey

pinch of salt


Put all ingredients into a blender or vita-mix and purée until smooth. Taste and add more salt or lime if needed. It should be a thick, pourable consistency. I like to put the crema (and any other sauces) in these squirt bottles. It makes things much easier and gives a nice presentation.

Preheat the grill and cook the chicken about 6 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer should register between 155° and 160° F. Remove the chicken, cover with foil, and let rest for 5-10 minutes. The internal temperature will rise at least 5 degrees as it sits.

For Assembly:

I'm not a burrito rolling pro but I did quickly learn that less is more. My impulse is to want to stuff as much of the goodness in there as possible. My impulse was not the best. If you add too much filling it can get pretty messy, things will start falling out the sides and it will be difficult to roll. I scoop the rice on first, top with sliced chicken, cabbage slaw, crumbled feta, a squeeze of lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Lastly, I squeeze some of the creamy with a kick cilantro crema all over the top. Roll it up and eat! Enjoy!

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