Quesadilla

Quesadilla

[key-suh-dee-uh; Sp. ke-sah-thee-yah]
A quesadilla (IPA [kesa'ðiʝa], usually anglicized as [ˌkeɪsʌ'diːjʌ]) is a dish in Mexican cuisine or Tex-Mex, which involves cooking ingredients, most importantly cheese, inside a corn or wheat tortilla or a wrapping of masa (cornmeal dough). The word comes from Spanish, and literally means "little cheesy thing" (from queso, or "cheese", + ada, an adjectival suffix, + illa, a diminutive suffix).

In other countries, quesadillas may be an unrelated cheese-based food.

Ingredients

Exactly what constitutes a quesadilla varies from region to region and between the U.S. and Mexico, and is not universally agreed upon by chefs, but there are certain similarities between the different versions that people generally agree upon, namely that the quesadilla is cooked after being filled or stuffed, while a taco or burrito is filled with pre-cooked ingredients. The purist faction may argue that only the folded-masa, empanada-style Mexican version is a "real" quesadilla, but some well known chefs such as Rick Bayless make more liberal interpretations.

Types

Corn tortilla based cheese tacos

A corn tortilla thrown on a griddle to cook, then flipped and sprinkled with grated melting cheese such as Queso Chihuahua or Monterey Jack. Once the cheese melts it gets a smear of guacamole and is folded and served. Fancier ones can add some shredded meat or other things to be warmed up with various types of cheeses.

Wheat tortilla based grilled cheese sandwiches

A flour tortilla is covered with cheese and some other things and then covered with a second tortilla. The whole package is grilled on an oiled griddle and flipped so both sides are cooked and the cheese is melted. This version is often cut into wedges to serve. The filling can be traditional Mexican or even something like Brie cheese and slices of pears poached in red wine and spices. A home appliance "quesadilla maker" is sold to produce this kind of quesadilla, although it does not use oil and cooks both sides at once. This meal is named "sincronizada" in Mexico, but never quesadilla as in the U.S.A.

The Mexican quesadilla

Portions of following have been paraphrased from the article Quesadilla in the Portada:

Originally, in most regions (especially the central region) of Mexico, a quesadilla is a circle of uncooked corn masa folded in half and filled with cheese, then warmed up until the cheese has melted. However, variations include the use of wheat flour tortillas, especially in the northeast part of Mexico, which are more like cheese tacos found in the U.S. Wheat dough is used in place of corn masa in pastes, a preparation typical of the Mexican city of Pachuca, Hidalgo.

The Salvadoran quesadilla

El Salvador also has its version of the quesadilla. Unlike its Mexican counterpart, the Salvadoran quesadilla is a dense bread dessert that is usually eaten with coffee. The ingredients include flour (or pancake mix), milk, eggs, butter, sour cream, sugar, and Parmesan cheese. The ingredients are mixed to create a batter and then baked in a shallow pan in the oven for about 30 minutes. This type of quesadilla is also common in Guatemala and southern Mexico states like Chiapas and Oaxaca.

Variations

Quesadillas can be stuffed with ingredients other than just cheese. Stuffings may include: pumpkin flower, sausage, chicken, ham, refried beans, potatoes, mushrooms, scrambled eggs, hamburger, etc. Salsas can also be added to spice up the flavor.

The sincronizada (Spanish for "synchronized") is a tortilla dish frequently confused with quesadillas by tourists because it is what is typically called a quesadilla in most Mexican restaurants outside of Mexico. Sincronizadas are made with a flour tortilla covered with cheese and then covered with another flour tortilla. And usually other ingredients like carne asada, ham or chorizo are used, just like in regular quesadillas.

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