Monday, May 3, 2010

Make it Better: Quesadillas

Cinco de Mayo is this week, and to "celebrate" we're focusing on Mexican inspired food. Our family loves Mexican food--or, to be accurate--Tex-Mex and Americanized Mexican (though we really do appreciate the real deal, it's difficult to get up in the Pacific Northwest. Such is life!).

To start off our week of Mexican yummies, I'm focusing on a simple dish that's super quick and super easy: Quesadillas. We've all had them and know that they're basically the Mexican version of a grilled cheese sandwich. You take two flour tortillas, stuff cheese in the middle, heat it up and viola--quesadillas!

But if you want to elevate your quesadilla, you need to elevate your technique. And I've found the best way to make them. You don't need to use your microwave or only need a decent non-stick skillet.

You can fill quesadillas with anything you want. I like them plain--with shredded cheddar and jack only--but you can add deli-sliced ham (my hubby's fave), cooked chicken, crumbled bacon, leftover taco meat (ground beef, shredded beef or shredded pork), grilled veggies...anything you want. And you can also play with the cheeses you use. Anything that you can slice or shred--that melts well--will work.

Here's how to do it:
  • Gather all your equipment. You need a decent non-stick skillet (large enough to accommodate your tortilla), a pastry brush, a spatula, and a clean, heavy pot (or some sort of heat-resistant, food safe weight).
  • Gather all your ingredients. Have your tortillas, cheese, and filling ingredients at the ready. You'll also need kosher salt and some oil (vegetable, canola, etc. work well--you don't want olive oil for this).
  • Put your skillet on medium-high heat.
  • Prep the bottom tortilla. Using a pastry brush, brush on small amount of oil, lightly coating one side of the tortilla. Sprinkle a little kosher salt over the oil. Place the tortilla, oil side down, in the skillet.
  • Add filling ingredients. Leaving about a 1/4 inch boarder, add cheese and your filling ingredients to the top of the tortilla in the skillet (I usually lay down some cheese, the meat/veggie filling, and then more cheese). Work quickly and neatly.
  • Cover and press. Put your second tortilla on top of the filling and place your clean, heavy pot on top of this tortilla. This will press everything together and will keep the heat locked in so that it melts the cheese and crisps up the bottom tortilla.
  • Cook for a few minutes. Depending on your stove and how high the heat is, keep the tortilla pressed and cooking for a couple of minutes.
  • Prep the other side. Take the weight off the top of your quesadilla. Quickly brush oil on the top tortilla and sprinkle with kosher salt. Carefully flip the entire quesadilla so the top tortilla is now on the bottom. Put the pot/weight back on the quesadilla and continue to cook.
  • Cut and eat. When your tortillas are golden brown (or to your liking), slide your quesadilla out of the skillet and cut into triangles using a sharp knife. Serve with whatever sides you like (I like mine with sour cream and salsa).
Try this the next time you need a quick, yummy, toasty snack. The little bit of salt elevates the normally bland quesadilla and gives it a little more flavor than normal. I also like how crispy and golden the tortillas get using this method. It really is a better way to make a quesadilla!

1 comment:

Greta said...

Sounds delicious - I can't wait to make one for me!