Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Best Ever Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas

There is a Mexican restaurant near my house that makes the most epic chicken & cheese quesadillas. The only problem is that they're only open in the evenings and half the time when I try to go, it's spontaneous and they're fully booked. Thus it has recently become necessary for me to perfect my own recipe for chicken & cheese quesadillas because they're the best on cold days, hot days, good days, bad days… Let's just say they're always good, especially when you're really hungry and want something hearty and filling. I love these on their own, but they're lovely with a bowl of tomato soup or chili alongside. If I'm just having quesadillas, I can't resist dipping them in a bit of hot sauce, my favorite being Chohula.

It may seem odd to add cinnamon and cocoa to a chicken quesadilla, but these enhance the chili flavor and while you'll get a hint of a spicy chocolate flavor in the background, those tastes are simply the back-up singers for the chili and cheese headliners. The combination is delicious!

This recipe makes enough for 6 starters, 3 full meals or 2 kids and 2 adults, however I've been known to devour a pile of these throughout the day with my husband as they're just as nice after they've cooled as they are when they're hot.

6 large flour tortillas or wraps
350g chicken, cut into strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing on the tortillas
300g mild cheddar cheese, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large, non-stick frying pan that has a lid, heat the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat and cook the chicken strips for about 5 to 7 minutes or until just cooked.

2. Remove the chicken to a plate or cutting board, being careful to leave the oil in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat for a few minutes while you shred the chicken with two forks, pulling it apart. 

3. Put the chicken back in the pan and add the chili flakes, chili powder, cinnamon and cocoa. Stir to coat the chicken and allow it to sizzle away for another 2 or 3 minutes. When ready, remove from the heat and cover with a lid to keep it warm.

4. Heat up a cast iron grill pan or another non-stick frying pan over medium heat while you get on with the quesadillas.

5. Spread a thin layer of cheese, a layer of chicken and another thin layer of cheese on top on only half of each tortilla and fold it over to be a half-moon shape. You want enough cheese on either side of the chicken to help it stick inside the tortilla and hold the whole thing together.

6. Brush one side of each half moon folded & filled tortilla with vegetable oil. Grill them one at a time, oil side down for about 6 minutes, flipping only once if you are using a grill pan and brushing the dry side with vegetable oil before flipping. It helps to have a little peak inside to see how the melting is coming along before making the decision to flip.

7. Cut each half moon shaped quesadilla into three triangles and serve alongside a salsa or hot sauce of your choice. 


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