One of my favorite appetizers over the years has been the quesadilla. When I was first exposed to the recipe in the 70’s, it was simply Monterrey Jack and cheddar between two flour tortillas, served with salsa. Over the years that sorry recipe has evolved into a multiple taste experience that goes way beyond a simple cheese melt.
These days that recipe has evolved into many different forms. I like my quesadillas to be crisp on the outside so I will grill them over meduim heat until they are golden brown on both sides. I also like them to stay together so as I build them I try to insure that the first and last ingredient is cheese.
Here is what I mean. Take a large flour tortilla, or several, and spread your shredded cheese out on it in an even layer of your favorite cheese out to an inch from the edge of the tortilla all the way around. The reason for this is to keep the melted cheese inside the quesadilla as it cooks, if you get it too close the the edge it will simply run out. Next add your ingredients, the chicken, shrimp, avocado, Anaheim peppers, habenero’s or whatever suits your fancy. Then as the final ingredient add a bit more cheese so that it will stick to the other side as it cooks. (I know this seems self-evident, but I see a lot of them made without this step and they fall apart as you try to cut or eat them )
Here are a few of my favorites.
Take some breast of chicken and cook it up using your favorite blackening seasoning. After they are blackened set them aside to cool. Take some bermuda (red onion) and slice it in long strands (French onion soup style) then saute it until it is just slightly caramelized. Now go back and slice your cooled chicken breast in thin slices about a quarter of an inch thick. Now you can use diced canned chilli (roasted Anaheim peppers) I prefer to use the whole roasted ones so I can cut them into slices about as big as the sliced onions. Now we are ready to assemble.
There is plenty of spice in the chicken so a bland mixture of cheeses like jack and cheddar works fine. Spread out the cheese, lay down the chicken slices generously over the cheese and then add the onion and chili. Remember to keep it an inch or so from the edge and keep the layers even as you go. Finally add another layer of cheese and put another tortilla on the top as your other side.
If you are just wanting to make a small quantity you can do a folded version of the same thing by using one tortilla, putting your ingredients on half of it and folding it over. You can also use smaller tortillas like the 6 inch size. Finally, if you use the larger ones the way to get them onto the grill is to take a large turning spatula, put it under one side and slide you fingers under the other to hold it until you can set it on the grill.
Marinate your chicken breast in a sauce-pan with your favorite adobo marinate. Here is an Adobo recipe from Rick Bayless, I like a bit of citrus flavor in my recipe so I add a few ounces of orange juice and a squeeze of lime to his recipe. After and hour or so put the sauce-pan on the stove, add enough water barely cover the chicken and poach the breast for twenty minutes or so to insure that the flavor is permeated in the chicken. Lastly, take the cooked chicken out of the marinate (save the marinate to moisten the beans) and shred it with a fork. You may need to add a bit of the marinate back into your chicken too keep it moist.
Now take some cooked black beans, puree them in your food processor with a hint of the Adobo marinate to keep them just thin enough to spread. The final ingredient is shredded Manchego cheese. You may have to look for this in your local gourmet cheese shop, but it is worth the search for the awesome flavor it provides.
Assembly is simple, just spread the tortilla with the beans, cover them with a layer of chicken and then the Manchego. Grill until golden brown and serve with a tomatillo salsa. This fresh salsa adds just the right accompaniment.
I am sure you can think of many more possibilities. Here are a few of the ones that I have used:
- Bay Shrimp and Black Olives
- Avocado slices, fresh tomato with Monterrey Jack
- Mango and Mahi Mahi (Yep it works, but it is a little moist)
- Chorizo and Scrambled Eggs and Feta (quick breakfast)
Have you got a favorite? I would love to hear about it. Add your comments below.
By the way I was out cruising on the internet highway today and out of the corner of my eye caught a phrase “all your kaysedillas are belonging to us” that is not the correct “mis-spelling” that was used as I tried to find it later and searched with a number of them. If you have seen or know where I can find this I would love to know. Leave a comment or contact me ;>) Thanks