Thursday, June 30, 2005

Passport: Mexico

Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Quesadillas with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream

These are soooo yummy. They are great for a casual dinner, appetizers or as an easy party hors d’oeuvre. They can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, with a quick reheat on the stove before you serve. And maybe even frozen.

I’ve written this recipe down once and when I recently looked back at it, I laughed. I’m going to start from scratch here.

2 Red Bell Peppers-roasted/sliced (optional)
1 lb Chicken-boneless/skinless (optional)
10 Flour tortillas
1 4 cup package of shredded cheese (I like the “Mexican” blend by Kraft or store brand)
Lime (2) (optional)
Cilantro (bunch) (optional)
Sour Cream-low/no fat works(optional)
Salsa (optional)
Salt/Pepper (optional)
McCormick’s Grill Seasoning (optional)
Mrs. Dash (optional)
Olive or Vegetable Oil

All you really need to make a quesadilla is tortillas and cheese. The rest is up to you.

To start, we need to roast the red peppers. I do this one of two ways. You can decide which will work best for you. Also, the red peppers are not necessary, omit them if you like, or buy jarred ones! But for educating the masses here is how I roast them.

Option 1:
Place the peppers in an oven proof pan. Place under the broil. Give them a few minutes, about 4, check. If they are blackening/“burning,” let them. You want them to be charred. When one side is fully charred, rotate and get the next side. Fully char the whole pepper. What this does is burn the skin and roast the insides of the pepper. When they are fully charred, remove from the broiler and place in a bowl. Place this bowl in a paper bag or cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit for twenty minutes. You can now remove the charred skin (it basically wipes/slides off) and be left with tender tasty roasted red bell peppers. Slice out the stem and seed pod from the inside. You might have some juice inside the pepper. I save this and pour onto the chicken later. You don’t have to. Now slice into quarter inch strips. Done.

Option 2:
On a gas stove, place the pepper over a high flame. Watch and rotate to char each side. Then place in a bag or bowl to cool, and follow the remaining directions from above.

Moving on…
Prepare your chicken by seasoning on both sides. I sprinkle liberally with Mrs. Dash and McCormick’s Grill Seasoning. Sometimes a generic “seasoning salt.” Place into a sauté pan over medium high heat, which has had about 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil put in. Once you place the chicken, allow to sit for about 5 minutes, this will get a nice crust on it and coat it thoroughly. Flip and cook the other side. Same thing; about 5 minutes. If the chicken breast are larger or thicker, you may need to give them another few minutes. If you are worried they are going to burn, turn the heat down to medium.

When they are done, remove from the pan and place on a plate, allow to cool to for five minutes.

Now, chop them up. I stick a fork in one end and just start running my knife through into about ¼ inch slices. Then I turn them a ¼ turn and do it again. You’ll get lovely little bites of chicken. Place the chicken in a bowl.

Zest and juice both limes. Pour ½ the juice over the chicken. Stir chicken and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the materials. Add a handful of chopped cilantro.

Clean out your fry pan, wipe clean. Put over medium heat.

Begin Assembly:
1 tortilla, then two tablespoons of shredded cheese, then about a quarter cup of chicken, then a few red peppers, then another tablespoon of shredded cheese, top with another tortilla. I do this on a cutting board next to my pan, and then with a flipper, carefully move the pan. Allow to sit for about two minutes. Lift the top tortilla. Is the cheese melting? If so, give the top tortilla a press down and then carefully flip. Your bottom tortilla is now on top and should be lightly browned/crisped. Give another minute or two. Peek between the tortillas and you should see them getting all goopy and melty and yummy.

Remove to cutting board and slice and serve. Top with your favorite salsa and or sour cream.

If you want to make these in advance, cook them all the way, place on a wire rack to cool completely. Stack with a sheet of wax paper between each one. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. To reheat, over medium heat, in a pan, place the quesadilla. Allow a few minutes per side. The tortilla will crisp back up and the insides will get all warm and gooey again.

I’m guessing they should be good after being frozen. Thaw in the fridge over night, then reheat as described above. Enjoy.

To make the Cilatnro-Lime Sour Cream

-Chop a small handful of cilantro

-Pour the sour cream into a bowl. Add the reserved lime juice, lime zest, small pinch of salt and grind or two of fresh black pepper. Stir to combine.

If you can, do this the night before. The lime and cilantro flavors will grow over night!!!! But if you make it right away, it will be just as good.

Oh hell, here is what I do to make my own salsa.

6 ripe Roma tomatoes (seeded and chopped into 1/4 inch cubes)
1 medium white onion (finely diced)
½ Jalapeno pepper (finely diced)
Cilantro, large handful (chopped)
S/P to taste
Lime, juiced

Mix tomatoes, onions, pepper and cilantro. Pour in juice from one lime. Salt and Pepper to taste. If it sits over night, YUMMY!

OK, I’m sure this was rough to read. Let me know if you have any questions.


No comments: