Quesadillas are as common a street food as tacos, and even simpler to enjoy at home as a snack or lazy meal. Most of us characterize a quesadilla as a tortilla stuffed with cheese and cooked over a griddle, resulting in that perfect textural contrast of toasted tortilla and gooey melted cheese. Today, street carts, fast food joints, and Mexican restaurants offer countless varieties of quesadillas with numerous options for vegetable and meat stuffings.
While salsa, sour cream, or guacamole commonly accompany quesadillas, you can slather tortillas in salsa to more thoroughly and efficiently incorporate the zesty, umami flavors into the quesadilla as it cooks. Similar to the way we spread the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich with butter or mayonnaise, you'll slather your favorite jarred or homemade salsa on the outside of the quesadilla.
However, you'll add the salsa during the cooking process, first assembling the quesadilla over the griddle, then adding the salsa to the top tortilla before immediately flipping it. This will give the cheese time to melt enough for the quesadilla to stick together for a mess-free flip. Then you'll slather more salsa on the other side and flip the quesadilla over once more.
The tortilla will absorb the layer of salsa, while the heat from the griddle will caramelize its vegetable ingredients and impart a bubbly, slightly charred, toasty texture. You can employ this hack with flour or corn tortillas for a wonderful flavor and texture upgrade.
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Cooking Tips And Salsa Combinations
For the salsa hack, it may seem easier to use two full tortillas instead of folding a singular tortilla. However, the folded method gives you more room to flip the quesadilla. If you use the sandwiched tortilla method, a flat top or pancake griddle will give you the room you need to successfully flip the quesadilla without losing its fillings. You could also use two small, street taco-size tortillas in the largest saucepan you have to achieve the necessary space.
Flour tortillas are more popular for quesadillas in Northern Mexico and the U.S., but corn tortillas have a richer, more authentic Mexican flavor that will complement the salsa, cheese, and fillings all the better. Plus, the salsa hydrates and softens the corn tortilla, making it just as pliable and easy to crisp as its flour counterpart.
If you're using cheddar, Monterey jack, or another type of semi-hard cheese, shredding a fresh block makes for even melting and optimal flavor. Mexican white cheeses like Oaxaca and Chihuahua come in pull-apart rounds, similar to string cheese, which is especially convenient for quesadillas.
Red and green salsa will both instill an umami zestiness to tortillas, and you can find plenty of store-bought varieties, or make your own from scratch with a few whirs of the blender. You can also use leftover birria broth, or the spicy tomato-chipotle broth in chicken tinga, to brush onto the quesadillas as they cook; simply use shredded chicken or birria beef for fillings.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.