20 November 2010


Quick, easy and great-tasting, I certainly adore quesadillas. The ones I make are probably nothing like the ones you’d get in Mexico, but at least they're tasty! If you make your own tortillas, the final result will be so much better, but there are plenty of decent store-bought ones out there as well. Use what works best for you!

As for the filling, I generally use shredded chicken, Monterrey Jack cheese, onion and red pepper, and top it with sour cream and some red salsa. You can really fill a quesadilla with anything you want, which is the beauty of this dish. Serve as an appetizer, a snack or even the centerpiece of a whole meal. If you do the latter, I suggest some tortilla chips and guacamole, perhaps some additional salsa and refried beans.

Quesadillas con pollo

2 tortillas (corn, flour, whole wheat, it’s your choice) – flour tortilla recipe below
1 chicken breast
1 red pepper
½ yellow onion
shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (or other soft/easy-to-melt cheese)
vegetable oil

First of all, cook and shred the chicken. The easiest way to do this is to boil in salted water it for about 6-7 minutes, until cooked through. Drain, let the chicken cool slightly and shred with two forks. Next, dice the onion and cook with a little bit of vegetable oil over medium heat, until translucent (2-3 minutes). While the onion is cooking, cut up the pepper, discarding the seeds and any excessive white membrane. Add the pepper to the onion and cook for another couple of minutes, until cooked but still crunchy. At this point, add the shredded chicken and season with salt, black pepper and a little cumin.

Next, bring out your trusty cast iron pan – large enough to fit a tortilla – and set over medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan, and start building your quesadilla. On top of the first tortilla, add a layer of the chicken filling. Top with some shredded cheese, then put the other tortilla on top like a lid. Place in the pan and cook until the bottom tortilla is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip carefully (so you don’t lose any ingredients into the pan) and cook another minute or two, until the second tortilla is golden brown as well. You’ll want to make sure there is some pressure on top after you flip, and that is easily done with the spatula.

Use a pizza cutter to slice into wedges, and serve with some salsa and sour cream.

Flour Tortillas

4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp lard or vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups warm water

Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Work the lard into the flour with your fingers, until completely incorporated. Add enough water to form a soft dough, but not so much as to make it sticky. Knead for five minutes. If you have a stand mixer, all this can be done with the paddle attachment to shape the dough, and the dough hook attachment to knead on low speed for a few minutes. Divide into portions weighing about 3 oz each, and form into balls. Let the balls rest under a towel for ten minutes.

Roll the balls into rounds, about 6 inches in diameter. Cook in a dry cast iron skillet until just starting to brown. When you do make your quesadillas later, you can actually follow the steps below, to prevent burning:

Cook one tortilla until golden brown on one side, then set aside. Cook the second tortilla until brown on one side, then flip it over. Add the filling (with the tortilla still in the pan), then place the first tortilla on top, with the non-browned side up. Flip the quesadilla over, cook until golden brown and serve immediately.