One of America’s Favorite – Quesadilla

April 27, 2015 at 5:18 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A huitlacoche (corn smut) quesadilla

A huitlacoche (corn smut) quesadilla

A quesadilla (/ˌkeɪsəˈdiːjə/, Spanish About this sound kesaˈðiʝa (help·info)) is a wheat tortilla or a corn tortilla filledwith a savoury mixture containing cheese, other ingredients, and/or vegetables, cooked often on a griddle, then folded in half to form a half-moon shape.

 
The origin of the quesadilla was colonial Mexico. The quesadilla as a food has changed and evolved over many years as people experimented with different variations of it.

 
Original (Mexican) quesadilla

In central and southern regions of Mexico, a quesadilla is a flat circle of cooked corn masa, called a tortilla, warmed to soften it enough to be folded in half, and then filled. They are typically filled with Oaxaca cheese (queso Oaxaca). Oaxaca cheese is a stringy Mexican cheese made by the pasta filata (stretched-curd) method. The quesadilla is then cooked on a comal until the cheese has completely melted. They are usually cooked without the addition of any oil. Often the quesadillas are served with green or red salsa, chopped onion, and guacamole. While Oaxaca (or string) cheese is the most common filling, other ingredients are also used in addition to or even substituting cheese. These can include cooked vegetables, such as potatoes with chorizo, squash blossoms, mushrooms, epazote, huitlacoche, and different types of cooked meat, such as chicharron, tinga made of chicken or beef, or cooked pork. In some places, quesadillas are also topped with other ingredients, in addition to the fillings they already have: avocado or guacamole, chopped onion, tomato, serrano chiles and cilantro are the most common. Salsas may also be added as a topping.

Mexican quesadillas are traditionally cooked on a comal, which is also used to prepare tortillas. As a variation, the quesadillas can be fried in oil to make quesadillas fritas. The main difference is while the traditional ones are prepared just filling the partially cooked tortillas, then continue cooking until the cheese melts, the fried ones are prepared like a pastry, preparing the uncooked masa in small circles, then topping with the filling and finally folding the quesadilla to form the pastry. It is then immersed into hot oil until the exterior looks golden and crispy.

Other variations include the use of wheat flour tortillas instead, especially in northeastern Mexico. Wheat dough is most commonly used in place of corn masa. In this case, the flour tortilla is prepared, folded and filled with cheese, exactly as the corn.

Sometimes cheese and ham are sandwiched between two flour tortillas, then cut into wedges to serve what is commonly known as sincronizada (Spanish for “synchronized”) in Mexico. Despite appearing almost the same as a quesadilla, it is considered a completely different dish. The sincronizada is frequently confused with quesadillas by tourists, because it is typically called a quesadilla in most Mexican restaurants outside of México.

 

Quesadillas served at a Friendly's

Quesadillas served at a Friendly’s

U.S. quesadilla

The quesadilla is a regional favorite in the Southwest United States where it is analogous to a ‘grilled cheese sandwich’. It is prepared in a similar manner except for the inclusion of local ingredients, and sometimes turkey. A flour tortilla is heated on a griddle, then flipped and sprinkled with a grated, melting cheese (queso quesadilla), such as Monterey Jack, Cheddar cheese or Colby Jack. Once the cheese melts, other ingredients; such as shredded meat, peppers, onions or guacamole may be added, and it is then folded and served.

Another preparation involves cheese and other ingredients sandwiched between two flour tortillas, with the whole package grilled on an oiled griddle and flipped so both sides are cooked and the cheese is melted. This version is often cut into wedges to serve. A home appliance (quesadilla maker) is sold to produce this kind of quesadilla, although it does not use oil and cooks both sides at once. This type is similar to the Mexican sincronizada; but in the United States, they often also have fajita beef or chicken or other ingredients instead of ham. That kind of quesadilla is also Mexican, and it is called “gringa” (the name varies in some regions in Mexico, there’s also a type of quesadilla called “chavindeca”).

There is a lot of regional variation to specific recipes throughout the Southwest.

 
Quesadillas have been adapted to many different styles. In the United States, many restaurants serve them as appetizers, after adding their own twist. Some variations are: goat cheese, black beans, spinach, zucchini, or tofu. A Scandinavian treat uses a lefse (thin potato pancake resembling a tortilla) containing brie cheese and lingonberry jam. Even dessert quesadillas are made, using ingredients such as chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, and different fruits.

 

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