Casino Cookbook: El Burro Borracho

Many a cook tries their hand at duplicating foods they love in restaurants and specialty shops, telling themselves, “it can’t be that difficult.” Often times, they’re right. It can be done—and it’s pretty simple. However, sometimes, it’s not as easy as it looks.
Mexican food for example looks easy because ingredients are simple, sauces are often slow-cooked and meat is marinated, making this comfort food one of America’s favorite. Recipes are often handed down and each time they’re prepared, a spice might be tweaked or flavor added, depending on taste and preference.
Well, Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho, located within Harrah’s Laughlin is traditional Mexican cuisine that’s been twisted and jacked up a bit, to make his menu and his food stand out.
Sure it might be duplicated at home, but cooks, be warned. Serious patience is required in addition to a lot of prep work before the actual cooking and assembly part takes place.
To Fieri, flavor and freshness is everything—it’s key, it’s the foundation on which he builds everything else and it is what makes his signature Trash Can Nachos the most popular item on his menu.
We know this because the Laughlin entertainer staff was invited to Harrah’s Laughlin, to go behind the scenes to see for ourselves how some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes are created from start to finish.
What separates Fieri’s place from other restaurants is the number of steps taken to create and complete each dish—anywhere from 12 to 14 steps. Twelve steps for nachos? Really? Yes, really.
Executive Chef Ron Williams led our field trip to the kitchen, along with Chef Jose Garcia-Velazquez and Chef Irais Pineda. Williams explained every step while the chefs prepared each dish, the time and attention to detail required. During our visit, they created Tacos Pastor, Shrimp Fajitas, and a Carne Asada Burrito in addition to the Trash Can Nachos.
When cooking for the evening’s diners in the “Drunken Donkey,” Williams explained the meat and seafood used in all dishes is marinated for several hours.
The chefs worked simultaneously on the four entreés, while Williams explained the process.

Trash Can Nachos
“The all-famous Trash Can Nacho is built in multiple steps—it’s built in layers. Each layer is different,” Williams said.
“It starts with tortilla chips, then comes the pico de gallo, fresh shredded cheddar cheese, and shaved jalapeños. Then he’s gonna add a little bit of queso fresco—our homemade cheese sauce made from scratch every day by our prep team. It consists of a Velveeta cheese block, heavy cream and an assorted mix of fresh peppers and seasonings. On top of that he adds some black beans.
“Then that process is repeated one more time with the same layers built twice,” he explained. “From here it goes into the microwave for two minutes. The reason it goes into the microwave—1) it helps bind the cheese and keeps the nacho together; 2) it keeps the internal temperature.
“This dish is very airy, very open, right? So to get it from here to the front of the restaurant, without it getting cold we have to give it a little bit of heat that’s just to help make it a little better.
“As the nacho finishes, this is where the fun begins—he fits it in the can.
“This is the way Guy Fieri first built this nacho. His big thing is, he wants a little bit of everything on each chip, right? So the reason we built it this way, and do it in the layers the way you see, is to ensure there’s a bit of cheese or beans or something on every single chip, no matter where you start eating—the middle, beginning, end— there’s always gonna be something on a chip.
“When we started learning how to make this, it took us about 15 tries at it to get it right,” he added.
Once those layers are placed in the can, there’s garnishing to do.
“This is the garnishing piece that everyone knows,” Williams said. “We come back with more pico, more shaved jalapeños, fresh cilantro, crema (liquid sour cream) and then top with pickled white onions.”
Why pickled onions?
“Actually the flavor on them is what breaks out the dish in my opinion,” he said. “You get pickled onions on every nacho. It’s awesome.

Carne Asada Burrito
“Our carne asada is marinated over a 48-hour window, our shrimp and other meats are marinated for 24 hours.” He said. “So our carne asada is marinated for 48 hours. It’s a long marinade process to make sure the flavors integrate into the meat. The carne asada marinade is an oil, soy sauce, fresh garlic and a house season blend.
They come out in the flavor throughout the tasting process. Our burritos are massively huge here. They can weigh in between 11 and 12 ounces.”
While the meat is cooking on the grill, the building part starts.
“It actually starts off as a quesadilla that’s built into a burrito,” he said. “It’s a quesadilla soft-shell so you get that extra flavor with the cheese. Each burrito will always get 8 oz. of meat or protein.
A smaller flour tortilla is placed on a larger flour tortilla sprinkled with shredded cheese. Lettuce, pico de gallo and crema (liquid sour cream) is then added. Once the meat is cooked through on the grill, which probably takes about 8 to 10 minutes, it fills the tortilla.
“Everything is cooked fresh, cooked to order,” he said.

Shrimp Fajitas
“Jose is working on the fajitas for us. The shrimp are marinated in a mojo sauce for 24 hours,” Williams said. “Then they’re placed on a grill and then we roast off some peppers, onions and poblanos to sizzle on the grill. Once everything has been cooked through, it’s placed on the dish.
“Guy’s very untraditional. He’s a very untraditional gentleman and this is not a traditional fajita, and this was a big thing for him too. Fajitas are very traditional, very old school. Every restaurant knows fajitas. It’s kind of hard to tweak a fajita or give it that extra flair to change it up. So Guy Fieri used a lot of spice and heat like pasilla peppers and jalapeños through it to give it a little bit extra.
“There’s the famous sizzle on a fajita, right?” he said. “The secret of a sizzle is simple. These cast iron dishes are kept on flame and extremely hot, you build on it and then to the sizzle that everyone knows—when it’s delivered from the kitchen to the front of the restaurant—is nothing more than a little lemon juice and water. You lose no flavor.”

Tacos Pastor
The chopped steak is marinated in adobo sauce for 24 hours and cooked on a grill for about 8 to 10 minutes. Chef Irais then works on the tortillas by wetting them a bit with water before tossing them on the same grill.
Once the tortillas are finished and they’ve been filled with the grilled meat, pineapple salsa, avocado Crema, pickled white onions and cilantro are added to complete the dish.

“Everything we do is made fresh daily. The team in here preps for four hours before we even open the restaurant,” Williams added. “It takes them a while just to prep, to get everything cut. It requires a lot of little knife skills, pieces to the puzzle and then they go to dinner service, so it takes time.
“These guys are very good, they’re very experienced. Most have been here since day one. At least half of them were here at the start of this mess and they’ve learned and progressed and gotten better and more efficient.”
While there are no specific measurements or amounts for ingredients, they can still be duplicated based on individual taste. This is where a love of “playing you’re your food,” experimenting with flavors, and making this creation your own come into play. Maybe too much spice is not your cup of tea, while someone else might want to crank up the heat even more. That’s where home cooks’ individual preferences and their own interpretation can come into play. So get cracking and let the tasty games begin.
Or just save yourself a lot of time and just check out El Burro Borracho for yourself.