Friday, July 13, 2007

BBQ Chicken Quesadilla

BBQ Chicken Quesadilla
The last few days have been unbearably hot, with yesterday being one of the top 10 hottest days ever recorded here in Seattle. I was too lethargic to do get up and do anything other than lay on the couch and complain about the heat. Pardon the silence on this blog, as I haven't been cooking much or blogging. But like Jaden, there are so many old recipes I still haven't gotten around to posting, so now is a good time to do so.

BBQ Chicken Quesadilla was a very popular menu item at my favorite lunch spot near the UW, Honeybee's Cafe (which sadly closed two years ago). It's been a long time since I've had a Honeybee's quesadilla, but from what I can remember, the original quesadilla had grilled chicken, tomatoes, Monterey Jack cheese, tomatoes, green onions, and BBQ sauce in a tomato flour tortilla. This quesadilla is very flexible the only constants are: tortilla, chicken, your favorite BBQ sauce (Cook's Illustrated likes Bull's Eye Original), and cheese. The rest of the ingredients depend on what you have on hand. So here rather than offering an exact recipe, it's just a few tips on making a yummy quesadilla, which I learned from watching America's Test Kitchen.

Barbeque Chicken Quesadilla

Flour Tortillas
Chicken, cut up into large chunks (You can use grilled chicken, leftover roast chicken or bbq chicken, doesn't really matter)
Coarsley grated cheese (Cheddar, Monterey, Pepper Jack, or a combo)
Thinly sliced green onions or red onions
Fresh tomatoes or fresh tomato salsa, drained (if using this then omit the onions)
Corn (frozen is almost as good as fresh)
BBQ Sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Few dashes of Tabasco if you like it hot
Lime juice, just a little bit (omit if using fresh tomato salsa)

- Toast your corn
Toasting the corn brings out a nice roasted, toasty flavor and evaporates the moisture so it doesn't leak into the quesadilla. This is an essential ingredient in all of my quesadilas now. (Frozen corn also doubles as a handy ice pack if you ever jam your finger in a door like Steven. :( Ouch!)

Heat a small nonstick skillet pan over high or medium high heat (no oil!) and add your corn. Shake the pan occasionally until you see the corn turn a dark brown in spots and pop out of your pan. Yes it will literally jump out of the skillet. Set aside for the filling.

- Make your quesadillas
There's a lot of flexibility here with what goes in so you can be the judge of that. Just don't make them too stuffed otherwise it'll be too hard to flip.

Also, rather than making the quesadilla with one tortilla on the bottom and one on the top and forming a sandwich (this is too hard to flip, stuff will fall out). Add your filling to only half the tortilla (leave a 1/2 in border around the edge) then you flip the other half over and make a half moon shape. This way, less yummy filling falls out. You can also cook two of these in a pan.

- Cooking the quesadilla
If you add the oil directly to the pan it won't evenly distribute to cover the entire quesadilla and sometimes you end up using too much oil leading to overly greasy quesadillas and oily fingers.

So instead, use a pastry brush and brush the tortilla a thin layer of vegetable oil. This ensures that the quesadilla will be evenly covered using the least amount of oil as possible. Optional step: sprinkle a little bit of salt over the oil so it will be even more crisp (I always forget to do this).

Cook the quesadilla over medium heat, oil side down, until the bottoms are crisp and golden brown, it'll will take a few minutes. Then brush the top of the quesadilla with some more oil and carefully flip them over. The second side will take less time because the pan will be hotter.

Slide them out and let it sit for 2 - 3 minutes for the cheese to set. Then cut into wedges and serve.

I'm not the only Seattleite who can't stand the heat, Pea made an absolutely drool-worthy ice cream.

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