Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Saturday night quesadillas

Another adventure in cooking. To make this dish you'll need

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large green pepper (or 2 smaller ones)
1 small package of mushrooms
1 bunch green onions (scallions)
1 packet fajita mix
shredded cheese
8 soft tortillas (1 package)
olive oil
sour cream
hot (not sweet) paprika
For less drama, do all the chopping before beginning to cook. And preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

1. Cut the chicken into small pieces (larger than a caramel square, smaller than a ping-pong ball). The easiest way to do this work is with a cleaver (whack!) or a very sharp knife. Be careful! Watch the way people cut and chop on cooking shows--they keep their fingers curled under and in, not splayed out where the knife can get them.

2. Begin cooking the chicken in a large pan with a little olive oil, medium heat.

3. When the chicken begins to get a little brown, add some mushrooms (about half the package), chopped into small pieces, and let things cook a while.

4. Add the green pepper, chopped into small pieces, and let things cook a while.

5. Mix a packet of fajita seasoning with the necessary amount of water and add to the pan.

6. Let everything cook for a while. The vegetables and the water (duh!) will keep everything from overcooking and drying out. Your pan should be bubbling and steaming as the green pepper is pulverized.

7. To make a quesadilla, put some of the chicken-mushroom-pepper on a soft tortilla. Add some shredded cheese (the 3- or 4-cheese combinations are good) and some salsa. Cover with another soft tortilla and let it sit in the oven for a few minutes. (Not too long!)

8. When the quesadilla is out of the oven, cover the top tortilla with a some sour cream and a light sprinkling of hot paprika. Then garnish generously with chopped green onions (scallions). (The sour cream will help the scallions stay in place.)

9. Serve with salsa and applesauce on the side. (That's the way they do it at What's Cookin' in Charleston, IL.)

Is applesauce a traditional Mexican or Tex-Mex garnish? I have no idea.

Two pounds of chicken should be enough for four large quesadillas (one package of tortillas), which will easily feed four or five people.

[An earlier post has more adventures in cooking.]

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