Tampa (BLOOM) – Today, I want to share a recipe that reflects the harmonious blend of my eight months living in Mexico and my Midwest upbringing. Inspired by the vibrant Mexican cuisine and influenced by the meat-and-potatoes style of the Midwest, this Midwest Mexican Style Quesadilla captures the essence of two distinct culinary worlds colliding.
Growing up in West Central Illinois, I was surrounded by a diverse community that included a significant Mexican and Dreamer population. It was here that I discovered a unique culinary landscape, where traditional Mexican cooking and recipes intertwined with the Midwest’s love for hearty meals. This cultural intermingling birthed a delicious clash of worlds, resulting in unforgettable flavor combinations and innovative culinary creations.
During my time in Mexico, I had the incredible opportunity to immerse myself in the rich tapestry of Mexican cuisine. From bustling street food markets to family gatherings, I experienced the tantalizing aromas and bold flavors that define Mexican cooking. The vibrant colors of fresh produce, the sizzling sounds of grills, and the skillful hands of local cooks left an indelible mark on my culinary journey.
As I returned to the Midwest, I couldn’t help but merge the bold flavors I had discovered in Mexico with the comfort food traditions of my upbringing. The result was a delightful fusion that celebrated the best of both worlds. The Midwest’s emphasis on meat and potatoes and comfort food harmonized beautifully with the vibrant spices, zesty ingredients, and love for tortillas that I had encountered during my time in Mexico.
This Midwest Mexican Style Quesadilla is a delicious testament to the culinary bridge between two worlds. It pays homage to the cherished traditions and flavors I encountered in Mexico while celebrating the warmth and heartiness of the Midwest. It is a culinary love letter that reflects the diverse tapestry of my own journey, and I am excited to share it with you.
Now the traditional way to prepare this is either with Flank steak or bacon from my hometown (Smithfield brand). But we will share the slightly healthier version that uses chicken breast. For the real version, scroll down past the chicken recipe.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes Serves: 2-4
- 2-4 small flour tortillas – Preferably La Banderita
- 12+oz cooked chicken breast, sliced super thin
- 1 tube chorizo, crumbled (Fine ground is best) About 8 oz
- 1 cup Oaxaca cheese, freshly grated
- ½ white onion, thinly sliced
- Pico de gallo
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and thinly sliced (optional)
- Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
- Lime wedges (for serving)
- Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Put your favorite oil in the skillet and cook the chicken until it is mostly done and getting some color.
- In the same skillet cook the chorizo with the chicken over medium heat until it’s cooked through. Well done is best. Remove any excess grease with a paper towel or by pouring into a container.
- Sprinkle half of the Oaxaca cheese evenly over another preheated small skillet.
- Take the tortilla and place it on top of the cheese as its beginning to melt. Spin the tortilla and push lightly until the cheese sticks.
- Use a spatula (or authentically your hand) to flip it cheese side up. The cheese grease will cook the other side and add delicious flavor.
- Add the cooked chicken, chorizo, sliced onion if you used it, and the Pico de gallo crema mix (if using) on top of the cheese.
- Allow the quesadilla to cook for around 2 minutes, until the tortilla becomes golden and softens.
- Fold the quesadilla in half with the spatula.
- Flip and smash as needed.
- Once both sides are golden and the cheese has melted, remove the quesadilla from the skillet and transfer it to a cutting board or plate.
- It should still be mostly soft unlike most quesadillas you’re probably used to.
- Allow the quesadilla to cool for a minute, then eat it midwest mexican style like a taco.
- Serve the Midwest Mexican Style Quesadilla with a garnish of freshly chopped cilantro and lime wedges on the side for squeezing over the quesadilla.
Cooking the Authentic (and Indulgent) Way:
While it’s always great to explore healthier alternatives, sometimes we crave the indulgent flavors that come from cooking in a more traditional manner. If you’re looking to prepare the Midwest Mexican Style Quesadilla in the authentic way, using ingredients like Smithfield brand thick-cut bacon and fine ground chorizo can create a rich and satisfying experience.
Here’s how you can cook it in the authentic, indulgent style:
- Begin by cutting the Smithfield brand thick-cut bacon into medium-small pieces. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon pieces. Cook them until they become almost crispy and have rendered their fat.
- Once the bacon fat has rendered, add a tube of fine ground chorizo to the skillet. Break up the chorizo with a spoon or spatula and mix it with the bacon fat. Allow it to cook until it is all well done and has developed a deep, flavorful color.
- At this point, the bacon and chorizo mixture will be aromatic and full of rich flavors. Proceed with the recipe as outlined above, layering the fillings on the melted cheese on the tortilla. The cooked bacon and chorizo will become a flavorful base for the quesadilla.
- Assemble the quesadilla and cook it until the tortillas are soft, pliable, and warmed through, and the cheese has melted. The goal is to achieve a harmonious blend of flavors while maintaining the tortillas’ desirable texture.
Note: It’s important to mention that cooking the bacon and chorizo in their rendered fat will result in a more indulgent and flavorful quesadilla. However, this method will yield a higher fat content. If you prefer a lighter version, you can still follow the same technique but reduce the amount of bacon and chorizo used or opt for leaner cuts of meat.
Remember, indulgence is a treat, and it’s perfectly fine to enjoy it from time to time. Balancing your culinary adventures with healthier options allows for a well-rounded approach to cooking and eating. Now, dive into the sumptuous flavors of the authentic Midwest Mexican Style Quesadilla and relish in the decadence it offers.
Tips for a Healthier Twist:
- Opt for Whole Wheat or corn Tortillas: Swap out regular flour tortillas for whole wheat or corn tortillas to add more fiber and nutrients to your quesadilla.
- Use Lean Chicken Breast: Choose skinless and boneless chicken breast for a leaner protein option. Grill or bake the chicken instead of frying to reduce excess oil.
- Reduce the Cheese Amount: While Oaxaca cheese is delicious, you can cut back on the quantity to reduce the overall calorie and fat content. Try using ¾ cup of cheese instead of a full cup.
- Add Veggies: Boost the nutritional value by incorporating colorful vegetables such as bell peppers, spinach, or zucchini into the quesadilla filling. Sauté them before adding to the quesadilla for added flavor.
- Cooking Spray or Olive Oil: Instead of melting the cheese directly on the pan, you can brush a small amount of olive oil on the tortilla or use cooking spray to help with browning while minimizing the need for excessive oil.
Additional Filling Combinations to Explore:
- Breakfast Delight: For a sweet and savory twist, combine crispy maple bacon with chorizo. Cook the bacon until crispy and crumble it along with the chorizo to create a flavorful filling. The combination of these two ingredients will add a rich and indulgent taste to your quesadilla.
- Steak and Chorizo Medley: Elevate your quesadilla by adding tender slices of grilled steak alongside chorizo. Marinate the steak in your favorite seasonings before grilling for a burst of flavor. The combination of steak and chorizo creates a robust and satisfying filling that meat lovers will adore.
- Caramelized Onion Magic: Add a touch of sweetness and depth to your quesadilla by incorporating caramelized onions. Slice an onion and cook it slowly over low heat until it turns golden brown and caramelized. The sweetness of the onions complements the spicy chorizo and adds an extra layer of flavor to the overall dish.
- BBQ Pulled Pork Twist: Give your quesadilla a barbecue-inspired makeover by using tender pulled pork as the main filling. Slow-cooked, seasoned pulled pork pairs perfectly with the smokiness of chorizo. Toss the pulled pork with your favorite barbecue sauce before adding it to the quesadilla, and you’ll have a delightful fusion of flavors.
Feel free to experiment with different combinations of fillings, incorporating your favorite ingredients and flavors. The possibilities are endless, allowing you to personalize your Midwest Mexican Style Quesadilla according to your taste preferences.
Note: Adjust the cooking times and techniques according to the specific ingredients you choose to use. The classic style of Midwest Mexican is to cook everything well done and crispy.
Traditional Mexican Side: Fresh Pico de Gallo Salad
No Mexican meal is complete without a refreshing side to complement the bold flavors of the main dish. To accompany your Midwest Mexican Style Quesadilla, we recommend a simple yet vibrant Mexican salad made with shredded lettuce, Mexican crema, and fresh pico de gallo. This side dish adds a delightful crunch, a touch of creaminess, and a burst of zesty flavors that perfectly balance the richness of the quesadilla.
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 1/4 cup Mexican crema (or substitute with sour cream)
- 1 cup pico de gallo (recipe below)
- Place the shredded lettuce in a bowl or on a serving platter.
- Drizzle the Mexican crema over the lettuce, distributing it evenly.
- Spoon the pico de gallo generously on top of the crema and lettuce. Ensure that each bite of salad incorporates the vibrant flavors of the pico de gallo.
- Toss the salad gently to combine all the ingredients. The Mexican crema will coat the lettuce, and the pico de gallo will infuse every bite with its tangy and fresh components.
Pico de Gallo Recipe:
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Salt, to taste
- In a bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño pepper, and fresh cilantro.
- Squeeze lime juice over the mixture, starting with 1 tablespoon, and add more to taste.
- Season with salt and mix well to ensure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Allow the pico de gallo to sit for a few minutes before serving to let the flavors meld together.
Serve the vibrant Pico de Gallo Salad alongside the Midwest Mexican Style Quesadilla for a complete and authentic Mexican dining experience. The crispness of the shredded lettuce, the creamy Mexican crema, and the zesty freshness of the pico de gallo will complement the quesadilla beautifully, adding a refreshing element to your meal.
Enjoy the harmonious combination of flavors and textures as you savor every bite of the quesadilla and cleanse your palate with the vibrant Pico de Gallo Salad. Buen provecho!
This Midwest Mexican Style Quesadilla recipe combines the heartiness of the Midwest with the bold flavors of Mexico. The combination of tender chicken, zesty chorizo, and creamy Oaxaca cheese creates a delightful symphony of flavors in each bite. By incorporating healthier alternatives and making small modifications, you can enjoy this delicious dish guilt-free. So gather your ingredients, get cooking, and savor the mouthwatering goodness of this Midwest Mexican fusion!