July 02, 2009

Tasty Chicken Quesadillas

Last night I cooked up one of my quick and easy favorites - chicken quesadillas! Delish! Always a crowd favorite. A always gives my meals a 1 through 5 star rating. 1 star means it was inedible, 2 stars means A will never eat it again, 3 stars means it was ok, maybe could tweak a few things, 4 stars means she wants it again, but it could still be improved and 5 stars means it was perfect and she wants it again next week. Needless to say, this meal is a 5 star all the time! The beauty of a quesadilla is that you can use what you have at home and experiment with different ingredients. And La Kitchen Chicana is always stocked with tortillas and cheese.

Here are my ingredients for the night. Now, I am no Sham-dra Lee but I do like to take shortcuts in the kitchen when I can and when it doesn't jeopardize the overall quality of my end product. So, I usually use the left over aspects of a whole rotisserie chicken as my protein, shred it quickly and it's ready to go. The debate between corn or flour tortillas is one that often weighs heavily on me. Lucky for me, A loves flour tortilla quesadillas while I prefer corn. As a Chicana I love both - corn from the homeland and flour from Nuevo Mexico. New Mexican food rarely uses corn tortillas whereas Mexican food (authentic) rarely uses flour. You can understand my confusion then when it's time to put the tortillas on the skillet, topped with cheese. It's also incredibly important to have all of your materials ready to go as it literally takes seconds for the cheese to melt. As you can see in my photo I decided I would be adding in some avocado to make the best quesadilla I possibly could last night.

I've heard of some people who put their tortilla in the microwave, top with cheese and press the start button. As a Chicana, I cannot endorse this method. Nor, can I endorse the put in oven and bake method, although there are some tasty concoctions that do actually come out of the oven and involve tortillas - they just can't be quesadillas.

The cheese should be melted all the way - like so. You need to be able to pull your quesadilla apart and have the cheese be all gooey. Otherwise, you're just doing it wrong. Also, when using shredded cheese you're probably going to get it all over the place, outside the boundaries of your tortilla and that's ok! I just found out that A's favorite part of her quesadilla is when the cheese cooks on the griddle, hardens and attaches itself to the outside of her tortilla. Next time I'll be sure to make this happen more for her.

This is A's meal, two quesadillas with fajita size flour tortillas, chicken and cheese. Garnished with some pico and sour cream. Yes I could make my own pico but who really has time for that, I mean I'm procrastinating enough with this blog from my dissertation - if I was slicing and dicing tomatoes, onions and jalepeños all day I really wouldn't make ANY progress on my dissertation and we simply cannot have that!

Now, to witness the whole process with my quesadillas. Since corn tortillas are smaller than flour I was able to fit both on my griddle at once. This thing isn't technically a griddle, but it's not a skillet either. Should I know these things? Hmm... how does one go about finding this out? I guess I'm going to have to do some research!

Start with a thin layer of cheese then top with your chicken. I would also suggest throwing any other items in here now so that you're able to melt the cheese around your ingredients to prevent them from falling out of your quesadilla when it's time to move tortilla to your mouth.

Here I forgot I had sliced an avocado so I put it on after my additional layer of cheese. I tried to make a pretty design here but was unable to make the one on the left as nice as the one on the right. I could however, live off of avocados for my entire life. I'm thinking avocados and red chile need to meet one another and become acquainted.

Again, no matter what is inside your quesadilla, the cheese needs to get gooey and your tortillas should be crispy on the outside. This is a delicate balance, not so crispy you will lose a tooth or your tastebuds will be overwhelmed with charcoal, but crispy on the outside and still soft on in the inside.

Doesn't this just look so yummy? And it literally took me about 10 minutes after I shredded the chicken which took 10 minutes - so prep to table 20 minutes. Of course, when you become a quesadilla expert you'll be racing to the finish so you can get that bite of gooey cheese!

I just had to show off the inside, look at how delicious that looks! Cheese, chicken and avocado - heaven. In fact, I remember turning to A and saying, this is a slice of heaven, I really need to take a picture of this. As I said, quesadillas are easy, inexpensive, quick and can incorporate whatever you have in your fridge. I love corn tortillas with mozzarella cheese - I used to make them all the time for lunch when I was still taking classes, I'd make them in the morning before I left for school, wrap them up in foil and microwave them for five seconds to warm and have a delicious and nutritious lunch/snack while I read my feminist theory.

Other possible combinations for delicious quesadillas - shrimp, cilantro and lime for a "fish taco" quesadilla, cheddar, egg and bacon for "breakfast burrito" quesadilla, cesina, onion and cilantro "taco al pastor" quesadilla, olives, artichokes and feta for Greek quesadilla, you know the options are endless, I can't wait to hear all about what you create!

A note about the absence of my kitchen assistant - Sandie. The one drawback to making quesadillas is that I can't make them all at once with this method so I make A's and then I make mine. Well, with this system Sandie can't be bothered to be in the kitchen with me because she's too busy begging for a piece of chicken or cheese or tortilla morsel from A out in the living room. Sigh, maybe next time I'll get her full attention!

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