No, not the ones with shredded Monterey jack and flour tortillas. I gave those up years ago. These Diana Kennedy-approved quesadillas are made from masa (the Spanish cornmeal dough in tortillas, tamales, arepas), stuffed with Oaxaca cheese and strips of poblano, and crisped up on a skillet until browned and bubbling. I never thought I'd like quesadillas so much.
That said, these are far more labor-intensive then sprinkling cheese on a tortilla and tossing it into the microwave. They can be made in under an hour, but you'll have to work quickly. The hardest part is constructing the quesadillas, as the masa tears easily. Plastic wrap and a metal spatula solves most of the problem. Just sandwich the masa balls between a large sheet of plastic wrap, then flatten the quesadilla in a tortilla press (or with an iron skillet, albeit very gently). Carefully peel back the plastic and set it on a cutting board. Top with the ingredients, and with a metal spatula, fold the quesadilla in half. With the metal spatula, transfer it to the skillet.
Sounds a lot more confusing on paper. After making 12 of these, I found my quesadilla making groove. These are unlike any quesadilla I've had before: they actually taste good.
About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a co-founder of The Paupered Chef, a blog dedicated to saving time and money while enjoying food in every way possible. He sells wine for a living and lives in Columbus, Ohio.
- 1 cup tortilla masa harina
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 5 ounces Oaxaca cheese, shredded
- 1 poblano chile, stem removed, and sliced thinly
Combine the warm water, a pinch of salt, and the masa harina until doughy. Set in a bowl, wrap with plastic, and set aside for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the oil into a skillet and turn the heat to medium. Cook the mushrooms until they have released their liquid. Set aside.
Divide the masa ball into 12 little balls. Tear off a piece of plastic wrap, about 2 feet long, and set a ball of dough on top, and fold over the wrap to cover. Flatten each ball with a tortilla press or the bottom of a large pot. It should be about 1/8 inch thick, just a little bit thicker than a normal tortilla.
Set one strip of poblano in the center, sprinkle with a little cheese, and a small handful of mushrooms. Fold the masa in half, using the plastic wrap to . Repeat with the other balls.
Set a large skillet over medium high heat. Set a few quesadillas on and cook for five minutes. Then flip, and cook for another five minutes. Serve immediately.