Pretty much everyone loves a quesadilla. Whether you are feeding a 3-year old with mild Monterey jack, or a sophisticated foodie with taleggio and grilled figs, a tortilla and melted cheese is quick to make and irresistible. Let me tell you about a simple trick which will take your quesadillas from tasty but floppy to crispy and delicious.
First a word of warning: this only works with corn tortillas. Flour quesadillas are fine too, but that’s a different article. I prefer corn because it adds more flavor and texture.
Anyhow, here is the secret: brush both sides of the quesadilla with a bit of oil before putting them on the pan or griddle on medium-high heat, and then let it cook plenty of time on each side.
I told you it was easy! It doesn’t need to be a lot of oil at all, but the difference is amazing. When you cook a quesadilla dry, the shell simply heats up and dries out a bit, which is ok. But when you brush on a bit of oil and let it cook awhile, the tortilla gets crispy / chewy and tastes amazing, like a perfectly fresh tortilla chip.
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If you are lucky, a bit of the cheese might run out and brown and stick to the edges like the top of a great mac & cheese and now you’ve got some serious flavor going.
To get your creative juices flowing, here’s a tasty quesadilla I made the other day, filled with green peppercorn pecorino, red onions, and (incredible) Stonewall Kitchen Roasted Garlic & Onion Savory Jam. I served it with a quick chevre & cilantro sauce and some smoked paprika. You should substitute ingredients wildly and make whatever sounds good to you!
Crispy Quesadilla with Pecorino and Garlic & Onion Jam
Makes 1 quesadilla – multiply as needed
Vegetarian & gluten-free; not vegan
Preparation time: under 10 minutes
- 2 taco-sized soft corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup grated green peppercorn pecorino cheese
- a few thin slices of red onion
- 1 tablespoon Stonewall Kitchen garlic & onion jam (see link above)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil (anything that can handle heat, like canola)
- pinch of kosher or sea salt
- 2 tablespoons goat cheese (aka chevre; my favorite is Laura Chenel)
- small handful cilantro leaves, chopped fine – reserve a couple for garnish
- smoked paprika (see link above)
- Heat a cast-iron skillet, flat griddle, or other frying pan over medium heat.
- Sprinkle the cheese on one tortilla and top it with the onion.
- Spread the jam on the other tortilla and cover the first one.
- Brush one side with the oil and put that side down in the skillet, then brush the other side with oil.
- Cook for several minutes on each side, until it is developing beautiful crispy brown spots. The one in the picture above could actually have gone a few more minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat the goat cheese with a bit of water until smooth like thick yogurt. Bruise the minced cilantro with your fingertips to release the flavor and stir it in to the goat cheese with a bit of salt to taste.
- When the quesadilla is done on both side, remove it to a cutting board and carefully cut it into quarters with decisive presses of a sharp knive. Place on plate, sprinkle with a bit of salt, dust the plate with the smoked paprika, add a dollop of the goat cheese sauce and munch intently.