Three Chile Quesadillas
“I don’t really like quesadillas.” That’s what my roommate, Jeff, said when I told him what I was making for dinner. I, of course, took this as a challenge. The problem with most quesadillas, as stated by Jeff, is that the fillings tend to be kind of dull and people just rely on tons of cheese for flavor. So you end up with this gooey mess of cheese.
Some people like gooey messes of cheese.
But what you don’t want to do is rely on it. So, to prove him wrong (something I really enjoy doing), I made a really flavorful filling using three different kinds of chile peppers. Then you can either add a bunch of cheese or not. You can also top your three chile quesadillas with all kinds of fun stuff.
The recipe for these guys is extremely flexible. I’ll reproduce what I did below, but seriously feel free to adjust the peppers or the pepper quantity based on how hot you can handle.
Three Chile Quesadillas
Yield: 6 quesadillas
2 pounds ground beef or mushrooms (I did 1 pound of each)
1 dried ancho pepper
6-8 dried Arbol peppers
6 chipotle peppers (and 1 Tablespoon of adobo sauce from the can)
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 12 ounce can black beans
4 Tablespoons oil
6 large tortillas (I used the very large ones made for wraps)
12-16 ounces shredded cheese, cheddar is always good
Salt and pepper
Greek yogurt or sour cream
1) Cut portabella mushroom into chunky cubes.
2) Let the Ancho pepper soak in hot water for a few minutes the dice.
3) Crunch up the entire Arbol pepper. Use the skin and the seeds. Add these to a large skillet with a few tablespoons of oil and crank up the heat to medium-high.
4) Let simmer in the oil for a few minutes.
5) After a few minutes, add onions and garlic. Then add mushrooms (or beef) and chipotle peppers.
6) After about 6 minutes mushrooms will start to be cooked down and/or beef browned.
7) Add in black beans. Taste for salt and pepper also.
8) Lay each tortilla out, add a bit of cheese to one half, then pile on filling and finally top it with some more cheese.
9) In a 350 degree oven, cooked each quesadilla for a minute or two open-faced which helps melt the cheese well. Then take it out and fold over the half of the tortilla without filling on it. Then back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so.
10) After a few minutes, flip the quesadilla and cook it for a few more minutes.
11) Serve topped with salsa, guacamole, Greek yogurt of sour cream.
Making the filling
Jeff realized that this maybe wasn’t going to be the normal blah filling when I brought these guys out.
If you’re using mushrooms get a nice hearty mushroom like portabellas. Cut them into chunky cubes.
For the ancho pepper, let it soak in hot water for a few minutes to loosen it up a bit. No need to do that with the Arbol peppers though. Dice up the ancho pepper, and crunch up the entire Arbol pepper. Use the skin and the seeds. Add these to a large skillet with a few tablespoons of oil and crank up the heat to medium-high.
Let these simmer in the oil for a few minutes. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the chipotle. If you add that now though, it will just burn.
After a few minutes, add your onions and garlic to the party. Then finally your mushrooms (or beef) and chipotle peppers. After about 6 minutes your mushrooms will start to be cooked down and/or your beef browned. Then add in your black beans. Taste for salt and pepper also.
Basically, the goal is to make one delicious and spicy filling.
The mushroom version will come out looking like this:
And the beef version:
Cooking the quesadillas
Since all your flavor is in one filling, this is a really easy quesadilla to pull together. Lay each tortilla out, add a bit of cheese to one half, then pile on your filling and finally top it with some more cheese.
Now there are a few different ways to cook these guys. Basically, you just need to melt the cheese and crisp up the tortilla. I like to do this in the oven. In a 350 degree oven, I cooked each quesadilla for a minute or two open-faced which helps melt the cheese well. Then take it out and fold over the half of the tortilla without filling on it. Then back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so.
After a few minutes, you might want to actually flip the quesadilla and cook it for a few more minutes. Depends on your oven and tortilla.
You could also cook these in a skillet. I like the oven method because I can cook 3 or 4 at a time and kind of forget about them.
This is the mushroom version without any toppings.
Honestly, they taste pretty good just like that, but I think the fun part about quesadillas is topping them with all kinds of fun stuff.
You might be able to guess this, but the star of the show here is the filling. Both the meat and mushroom versions turned out great. The three different chiles made a very smooth heat with lots of flavor.
At the end of the day, I think I convinced Jeff that quesadillas can, in fact, be more than a cheesy-filled mess. He had no problem polishing off a few of these guys anyway.