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Quesadilla Making Basics

Love those little bite-sized triangles of crusty tortillas and fillings - it's quesadilla time!

Quesadillas are a Mexican tradition that are served in turnover style. Raw masa dough is filled, folded, pinched at the edges, and cooked on a griddle or fried. The quesadillas we know are more New Mexican or Tex-Mex and than true Mexican, but they're found on a number of restaurant menus and they're super easy to make at home.

They are simply two prepared tortillas that have filling in between and cooked in a skillet with a little oil (we prefer cooking spray). Larger tortillas can be folded over in the same traditional way, but they are not typically fried.

Fillings can be anything that's available, but usually includes a shredded cheese, chicken, chopped green onions, salsa, and mushrooms. Beef, refried beans, eggs, hot peppers, and a host of other ingredients can be mixed and matched.

The key is to have all ingredients ready before you begin. These can be prepared a day in advance, even. Chicken and meat fillings will taste much better if they're grilled outdoors first.

Coat the skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Place both tortillas in the skillet and begin letting them brown. Flip as needed with tongs or a spatula. Turn each inside out as they begin to puff up. On the last turn, remove the top tortilla to a plate and add the fillings. You can pile it on or be conservative. Add the top tortilla and begin pressing down with the spatula. Make circular turns with the palm of your hand (the tortilla surface should not be that hot). Once the ingredients have begun to firm up (but the bottom is not yet burning), flip over and continue cooking. If the tortillas are not firm, it's too soon to turn or the filling will fall out.

If desired, let some of the cheese continue oozing out the sides and cooking. This will add a nice crispy touch. As long as the outsides are not burning, the insides can continue to cook. Transfer quickly to a plate and quarter with a pizza cutter. Top with more salsa, sour cream, diced green onions and serve.

For larger groups, Have a couple of skillets going - and a couple of extra hands. Be prepared for a little mess - The filling stage is fast and furious and a few stray bits are sure to land outside the skillet. It's worth the effort and the mess - to enjoy these delicious quesadillas.

One quick tip: if using larger tortillas (over 8-10 inches), use the foldover technique and use only one tortilla per skillet. They're simply too large to make an adequate flip with the sandwich method.

Thinking about a quesadilla maker? Read this:
Basic Tips for Using a Quesadilla Maker




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