Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Chicken Quesadillas

Apparently, I'm channeling the memory of Irma today, in a way I never knew her. As you all know, I made that chicken yesterday, and as you probably expected, there was a lot leftover. I'd originally intended to use this chicken for chicken salad. Part of me doesn't see a good reason for this, though, since P is leaving for Brazil on Saturday (and he won't have eaten it all by then) and I don't particularly like chicken salad (alright... I admit it). While I was taking my calculus test (this will probably explain how many questions I couldn't remember how to do), I started thinking about tortillas. The conversation in my head went something like this (Be forwarned, I like to have conversations with myself in my head as though I were two people, since it makes sorting thoughts simpler):

"I could really go for a tortilla right now. A butter flavoured one."
"You really should go for figuring out this problem. Besides, we have all that chicken to eat."
"Could eat the chicken in a tortilla. Like a wrap or something."
"Would be be better in a quesadilla."
"You don't like chicken quesadillas."
"Maybe I would if they were made right. Like Irma would make them."

and so on...

Irma was the friend of one of my closest friends, Tara, when I was in Utah (a large chunk of where I grew up). Which by extension, made her kind of my friend too, though in reality I viewed her more as this really weird chick I could not understand who was a blast to get in trouble with. Different kind of trouble than what Tara and I got into when we were by ourselves, too. Variety is nice.

Irma's family is Mexican, so the food they ate was completely different than the stuff we ate. Some of the time, anyway. I remember once Tara telling me about how quesadillas were made while she was at Irma's house, and they were really good. I can't recall the details of their flavour; whether they were just cheese or filled with other things. I just remembered how they were cooked, though, because Tara said there'd been discussion about the cooking methods. Mostly the way I imagined they sounded while cooking. I didn't use a comal today, but it just kind of popped in my head. The way Tara described them was a way I wanted to taste them. This was at least fifteen years ago, and I still had never made them. I'd forgotten about them until today.

So I stopped at the store to get a chile pepper, some cheese (I had the wrong kinds) and some ro-tel tomatoes. I figured I'd make Spanish rice, too. P was excited for the quesadillas, and I was excited to make them for the first time. I am so rarely impressed with my cooking, to be honest. I usually like my cooking, but I can usually taste it in my head, so I have already "eaten it," so to speak, before I consume it, that I'm not typically impressed. This time, though... these were so amazing. I am stuffed but I want to eat the last of P's anyway.

So here's how I made 'em:

1 anaheim chile, deseeded and diced
1 shallot, cut in half then sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch salt

6 butter flavoured tortillas
1 1/2 cup chopped up chicken; mostly white meat, divided into 3
2 1/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (use less if you want, or more), divided into 3

In a non-stick pan, dry cook the chile and shallot over medium heat. When it starts to char very, very slightly (you want the good taste of charring, not the burn taste of charring), put the lemon and salt in the pan and turn the heat down slightly. Allow to continue cooking until fairly soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a medium (tortilla-sized) pan, or heat a comal to medium-low or medium. Put one tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle most of 1 pile of cheese (3/4 cup) over the tortilla, then sprinkle chicken. Add one third of the chile/shallot mixture, then top with the remaining cheese and
another tortilla. Cook 5 minutes, then flip over and cook another 5 minutes. Keep warm while you cook the remaining two quesadillas. Cut into sixths and serve. Serves 1-3.

Spanish Rice (uncoloured)

1 cup rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, lard or fat of your choice
1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel tomatoes (I got the generic for 50 cents and they're fine), drained with liquid reserved
Chicken broth or water added to tomato liquid to make 1 3/4 cups liquid

Heat a saucepan and add fat and rice. Stir rice until it is browned slightly. Add liquids and bring to a boil. When boiling, cover first with a paper towel, then with the lid. Reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, at least 15 minutes.

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