What’s Up, Hungry People
You’d be hard pressed to find a Bobcat that hasn’t eaten a Big Mamma burrito at least once during their stay at the most amazing university in the entire world.
If you’ve ever merely taken a stroll down the red bricked Court Street, you would have walked past one of the greatest gems in all of Southern Ohio: Big Mamma’s Burritos.
Big Mamma’s Burritos: A Local Gem
Let’s start with a little background. Big Mamma’s Burritos, nestled along the vibrant Court Street, is one of the crown jewels of Southern Ohio.
This late-night burrito joint holds a special place in the hearts of Ohio University students, alongside other beloved spots like Wings Over Athens, Goodfellas, Burrito Buggy, and Insomnia Cookie (the class of 2013 should remember these places!).
But it’s Big Mamma’s that takes center stage with its Chipotle Ranch Mamma burrito, capturing the hearts and palates of hundreds of fun-loving, late-night revelers.
Recreating the Magic of Big Mamma’s at Home
I’d have to say one of the best parts of being able to recreate this burrito as an alumni of Ohio University, in the quiet of my own home, is that I won’t wake up with half of the burrito strewn across the entire property with the other half partially consumed and tucked under my pillow – as I may or may not have experienced on several occasions during my time as a Bobcat.
We’ll just leave it at that.
The key to nailing this recipe lies not only in the delicious fillings but also in the signature chipotle ranch sauce that coats Big Mamma’s burritos. While you can get creative with your fillings, I’m going to show you how to recreate my personal favorite version: the Chipotle Ranch Mamma with shredded chicken.
However, don’t let that stop you from experimenting with beef, pork, or chorizo—it’s all about personal preference!
Here’s What You’ll Need
- Chicken breasts: The main protein source for the burrito filling.
- Water or chicken broth: Used for boiling the chicken and cooking the rice, adding flavor to the ingredients.
- Instant white or brown rice, cooked: Provides a base for the burrito filling, adding texture and substance.
- Romaine lettuce, chopped: Adds freshness and a crispy texture to the burrito.
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce: Adds smoky and spicy flavors to the chipotle ranch sauce.
- Ranch dressing: Combines with chipotle peppers to create a tangy and creamy sauce for the burrito.
- Red onion, chopped: Adds a mild onion flavor and crunch to the burrito filling.
- White cheddar cheese: Melts and adds a rich and creamy element to the burrito.
- Tomato, diced: Provides a juicy and fresh component to balance the flavors in the burrito.
- Tortillas for rolling: Wraps and holds all the ingredients together, creating the burrito structure.
The Perfect Ingredients and Techniques
To start, I boiled the chicken in a rich chicken broth for an hour. This helps to infuse the meat with flavor and ensures it becomes tender enough to be easily shredded.
Now, the star of the show—the chipotle ranch sauce! I combined two tablespoons of chipotle peppers with a quarter cup of creamy ranch dressing. The chipotle peppers add a smoky, spicy kick, while the ranch provides a cool and tangy balance. Mix them together and let the sauce chill until you’re ready to assemble your burrito.
Remember, Hungry People, authenticity is key!
Opt for fresh romaine lettuce and chop it yourself rather than using pre-shredded lettuce. This simple step adds a crisp texture and elevates the overall flavor.
Building the Ultimate Burrito
When it’s time to assemble your burrito, make sure to pile on the fillings high and proud. Big Mamma’s is famous for its overstuffed creations, so let’s recreate that glorious abundance! Don’t hold back on the shredded chicken or any other fillings you choose to include.
I even rolled mine up in foil, not only to help seal the burrito together, but also so I didn’t have to clean any plates. Hooray post-grad life!
Tips to Making Big Mammas at Home
- Boil chicken until it shreds easily: Simmer the chicken until it is tender and can be easily shredded for a moist and flavorful filling.
- Use a hand mixer to shred chicken: For quick and effortless shredding, use a hand mixer on low speed for perfectly shredded chicken.
- Cook rice in chicken broth: Cooking the instant rice in chicken broth adds extra flavor to the rice, enhancing the overall taste of the burrito.
- Chill chipotle ranch sauce: Allowing the chipotle ranch sauce to chill before serving allows the flavors to meld together for a more delicious and cohesive taste.
- Wrap burrito tightly in foil: Wrapping the burrito tightly in foil helps hold the fillings in place and makes it easier to eat on the go.
- Customize with additional toppings: Feel free to personalize your burrito with additional toppings such as guacamole, sour cream, or salsa to suit your taste preferences.
- Experiment with different meats: While the recipe suggests chicken, don’t hesitate to try beef, pork, or chorizo for a different flavor profile.
- Don’t skip the fresh ingredients: Using fresh romaine lettuce, red onions, and diced tomatoes adds brightness and crunch to the burrito.
- Warm tortillas before assembling: Warm the tortillas slightly to make them more pliable and easier to roll without tearing.
- Practice rolling technique: If you’re new to rolling burritos, practice the rolling technique using a smaller tortilla or watch online tutorials to perfect your skills.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Finally, it’s time to savor the fruits of your labor. As you take that first delicious bite of your homemade Big Mamma burrito, let the flavors transport you back to your days at Ohio University. I know for me, enjoying this burrito brings back a flood of memories from my four years in Athens—over a decacde behind me already. Time truly flies, doesn’t it?
So there you have it, Hungry People—a recipe that captures the spirit of Ohio University and the iconic Big Mamma burrito. Give it a try and relish in the flavors that bring back memories of late-night adventures, lively campus life, and the joy of being part of the Bobcat community.
Until next time, happy cooking and stay hungry for more tasty adventures!
Big Mamma’s Chipotle Ranch Mamma Copycat Recipe
- Boil the chicken breasts in the water or chicken broth, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook, covered, for an additional hour or until the chicken shreds apart easily. (PRO TIP: use a hand mixer to shred the chicken with ease).
- Cook the instant rice in the chicken broth according to the package instructions.
- Prepare the chipotle ranch sauce by combining 2 tablespoons of chipotle peppers with ¼ cup of ranch dressing. Stir well to combine, then chill until ready to serve.
- Remove the chicken from the broth and shred it.
- Assemble the burrito by placing the cooked rice, shredded chicken, chopped Romaine lettuce, red onions, white cheddar cheese, and diced tomatoes on a tortilla. Pour the chipotle ranch sauce over the entire filling.
- Roll the burrito and use foil for that extra Court Street-vibe. Enjoy! Go Bobcats!