1/16/07 | Quesadillas
[ Currently Eating: Bacon ]
OMG. WTF. It has been colder than a Witch’s Frozen Banquet Dinner where I live. Yes, I represent the wimpiness that is Southern California’s winters. It got down to 29 degrees F the other night. Man! Ok, stop laughing now.
I can’t believe I actually haven’t done a feature on Quesadillas yet. I know I’ve posted about them as fast food before (believe it was Del Taco’s, which tasted like crap boogers to me). But the humble quesadilla is a great staple here at Cheap Eats and for many grocery-challenged denizens around the world.
I was going to write up a lame “recipe” for it a la the infamous Ghetto food line that was so popular. But in the interest of time, I’ll just say: take two flour tortillas and some cheese that melts. Layer them in a pan. Cook. Done.
Ok, so there’s generally a good deal more going on for most quesadillas. But you get the gist of it. There are several great things about quesadillas, but two of my favorite are that they are massively movable (i.e. portable) and they function as both snacks and meals. Many a long and boring commute to UCLA was livened up by a quesadilla in one hand and KXLU on the radio dial. How does the Dr. Seuss rhyme go? I would eat them in a house, I would eat them with a mouse. I would eat Quesadillas stuffed with ham, I would eat them Sam I Am…
As said before, you can pretty much get quesadillas at any fast food joint. However, these prepared ones just seem sad compared to the ones you can make at home for cheaper. I get the large sized burrito flour tortillas and use a large flat non-stick pan (they also make a grill-type pan similar to a pancake cooker that is ONLY for quesadillas). The cheese can be any type that melts – I favor Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and Mozzarella just because that’s what we usually have around the house. Harder cheeses like Parmesan don’t seem to fare as well, though you can mix some in for extra flavor. The important thing is to grate the cheese instead of cutting it up into slices or chunks (unless, you’re going the true ghetto route and using slices of American cheese).
You can also add different fillings like pre-cooked chicken or steak, mushrooms, bell peppers, beans, corn, ham, etc. I used to get the chicken or steak quesadillas at Baja Fresh and they were quite good but were REALLY pricey ($5-6) for semi-fast food. One warning – I would definitely always pre-cook any meat you put in your quesadilla because the length of time is not enough to completely cook most raw meat.
I just put a tortilla down on the hot pan and cook till it browns a bit. Sometimes, I’ll flip the first tortilla once it browns. Then I sprinkle on the cheese evenly, leaving a good amount of space around the edges to allow for Cheese-Expansion (2nd law of Quesadilla Thermodynamics states that cheese that is heated between two surfaces will tend to flow outward). Although, I don’t mind a little cheese leakage myself because it browns on the pan making these nice crunchy cheese bits.
Then after the cheese has melted a bit, you cover it with the 2nd tortilla and flip it over. You just wait a bit and you’re done. Remove to a cutting board and cut it up into wedges or slices. Garnish it whatever. Actually, that’s one of the best parts of the quesadilla – the garnish. I usually opt for the traditional sour cream and salsa, with simple Guacamole if I happen to have avocados around. Lettuce or salad goes great with Quesadillas too.
Price:Varies – $0.25 to $7.00
Cheap Eats Score: 8/10