The quesadilla is a pretty diverse vehicle for deliciousness. In this version I’ve used fresh ripe mango, velvety brie, and roasted poblano chilies to make a very simple but slightly fancy version of a classic.
Fun Quesadilla Facts
Here are two fun facts about the humble quesadilla. Fun fact #1: The quesadilla is sort of the grilled cheese sandwich of Mexico. Okay, I guess that’s not really a fact is it? It’s more of a metaphoric observation or something. Anyway, fun fact #2 is definitely a fact: everyone from toddlers to drunk people love quesadillas–especially toddlers and drunk people.
Toddlers like them because they’re constantly picking objects up with their tiny little hands and shoving them into their slobbery mouths. And a quesadilla cut into little wedges is ideal for picking up in your hands and shoving into your mouth. Also, teeth are optional for most quesadillas, which is handy given that many toddlers lack a proper set of chompers.
Drunk people like quesadillas because they don’t require silverware, or even a plate really. And they can eat them one-handed, thus freeing their other hand to hold a drink. And the cheese inside works like an adhesive, keeping whatever other fillings that are in there–like the mango in these mango brie quesadillas for example–from slopping out on the front of their shirts when their hand-to–mouth motor skills turn toddler-like. Come to think of it, they’re a lot like toddlers, drunk people. For instance, they’re wobbly walkers, they can’t speak intelligibly, and occasionally they wet their pants. But I digress.
In conclusion, quesadillas are like pizza in a way. Did I say grilled cheese? I meant to say pizza. They’re delicious, fatty, satisfying, portable, easy to eat with your hands, and the ingredients are glued to the bready part with melted cheese, What’s not to love?
The Quesadilla Was Invented in Mexico
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the origin of the burrito (tiny donkey, wrapped in a tortilla) is nebulous. Americans consider burritos to be Mexican food, but much like Cinco de Mayo the burrito is really more of a Mexican-American thing. Or maybe it’s even a Tex-Mex thing–possibly (probably?) invented in Ciudad Juárez, which is right across the river (and soon, apparently, just a hop over a large, pointless, and very expensive wall) from El Paso, Texas.
The quesadilla, however, has a fairly straightforward Mexican pedigree. Traditionally, according to that font of knowledge Wikipedia, they are made with just a masa tortilla and some cheese. And of course it was inevitable that people would start sticking additional things in there too. Onions maybe, or some shredded chicken. By their very design they were destined for popularity. They’re very easy to make (especially with the advent of prepared tortillas), they’ve got a very satisfying comfort food quality, and they have all the virtues that toddlers and drunk people value, as I described above.
About These Mango Brie Quesadillas
Mango? Brie? This is the stuff of a French snack, or a picnic date with a pretentious American graduate student. It seems suited for accompaniment by some white wine and a bit of baguette. In a quesadilla? Oh yes. Yes indeed! It’s delicious. Remember, a quesadilla is really sort of a folded sandwich. You can stuff it with whatever you like, so long as you glue it in place with some cheese (which entails heating it to melt the cheese). Brie, I don’t have to remind you, is cheese. And mango is “stuff”. This is still a quesadilla I think.
I also put diced roasted poblano chili in mine, and a bit of onion and cilantro. Oh yeah, and I used wheat tortillas like most people do in America.
The play of sweet (mango) and savory (onion, poblano, cilantro) is nice. If you don’t want the sharpness of raw onion you can “acid cook” them in a bit of lime juice (I did that) and/or saute them for a moment in a skillet.
Traditional masa quesadillas are grilled without fat, I think. People typically butter the outside of flour tortilla quesadillas to facilitate getting a nice crispy brown exterior. This, I conjecture, is due to the grilled cheese connection. That’s how you grill a cheese sandwich, right? I use extra virgin olive oil because, as we’ve established in this blog over the past nearly two years, I’m slightly obsessed with getting and staying healthy. I used whole wheat tortillas too. Yes. I’m that annoying.
- 2 Large Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas (Burrito Sized)
- 1 Ripe Mango, peeled and diced
- 2 Fresh Poblano Chilies
- 4 Ounces Brie Cheese
- ½ Small White Onion, peeled and finely diced
- Juice of ½ Lime
- 1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro Leaves
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Cooking
- Place the diced onion in the lime juice to allow the acid in the lime juice to slightly cook the onion.
- On a gas stovetop (or with a propane torch), char the outside of the poblano chilies until completely blackened all over. Seal the chilies in a paper bag and allow them to steam a few minutes to loosen the outer charred skin. Then rub the charred skin off of both, remove the stems and seeds, and coarsely dice.
- Divide the brie in half and spread each half on one half of each tortilla (you’ll eventually fold the tortilla in half, so you want cheese on only one of those halves).
- Divide the mango, poblano, and onion between the two tortillas, on top of the cheese.
- Add some cilantro leaves on top, and fold the tortillas in half to enclose the filling. .
- Preheat the broiler in your oven (or alternatively, you can grill the quesadillas in a large skillet on the stove top).
- Brush the tops of the quesadillas with olive oil to coat. Flip them over, taking care not to lose any of the filling. Brush the other side with olive oil as well.
- Place the quesadillas on a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Watch very carefully (they can burn quickly!). When the tops begin to brown and blister, but before they burn, flip the quesadillas over and broil the other side in the same fashion. Remove from the oven and allow them to sit for a few minutes so the cheese can firm up a bit.
- Cut each quesadilla into three wedges and serve--either by themselves, or with some sour cream or salsa.