13 April 2011

And a tied-up lunch of sandwich and tart

The genius thing about a quesadilla is that it's really made of whatever is in your fridge, and a tortilla.

There are people who will tell you that putting whatever is in your fridge into a tortilla and calling it a quesadilla is inauthentic and wrong, and that you're bastardising one of the great cuisines of the world.

In response I say: Welcome to America. We've been borrowing, stealing, fusing, and bastardising the world's great cuisines since the 16th century, and it's one of the things that has made us great. Now hush up and eat your bulgogi taco.

The contents of my fridge last night included:

  • 3 bratwurst-sized links of Mexican-style chorizo
  • 1/2 pound just-this-side-of-dodgy mushrooms
  • 1/2 bunch slightly wilted flat-leaf parsley
  • an assortment of cheese scraps (mostly cheddar and jack) amounting to about 1 cup, grated
plus onions and the tortillas. I like plain flour tortillas for quesadilla making, but I will not judge you if your fridge contains something different.

And here's what I did:

Chop the parsley, grate the cheese, and set aside.

Put the large cast iron skillet over medium high heat with a small drizzle of olive oil in the pan.

Peel the onion, cut it in half lengthwise, and slice. Toss it into the hot skillet.

Cut the sausage links into quarters. Toss them into the skillet with the onions. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms.

When the sausage is browned and the onions are getting soft, toss in the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have browned, too, and the sausage is completely cooked. Remove from the heat.

If you have only one skillet, scrape the filling into a bowl and wipe out the skillet so you can use it to cook the quesadillas. If you're like me and have a second skillet, or a cast iron griddle, put that on the burner at medium high heat and brush with a little olive oil if necessary. (With a really well-seasoned pan, it probably won't be necessary).

When the skillet is hot, toss a tortilla on it and let cook for a minute or two. Then flip the tortilla.  Put about 1/2 cup of the filling on one half of the tortilla. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and cheese. Fold the other side of the tortilla over the filling (use the spatula) and cook for another minute or so. Then flip the quesadilla over to toast the other side -- again, a minute or two.

Repeat until you are out of filling. Quesadillas can be kept warm on a baking sheet in a low oven until you're ready to serve them.

Shazam. Dinner in 30 minutes. I should note that these did not fall apart when picked up and eaten with our greedy paws. I half expected to be dropping slices of mushroom and chunks of sausage all over myself, but they stayed quite tidily put.

Sausage and mushrooms are a favourite pairing here at Belfry headquarters, but all sorts of combinations are possible:

  • Tofu (or tempeh) and greens
  • Mushrooms and greens
  • Tofu (or tempeh) and mushrooms and greens
  • Leftover cooked meats
  • Leftover cooked vegetables
  • The single chicken breast/pork chop/etc that's in the freezer
  • Stray vegetables from the farmshare box
  • Fishes, precious (I can imagine both a gravlax-esque salmon and dill version, and a salmon-and-sorrel one. Also, shrimp or scallops. Crab salad. And so on).

Cheese I think is an essential ingredient, if only because it helps hold the rest together, but again, imagine the possibilities:

  • Gruyère with ham.
  • Feta and wilted spinach.
  • Cheddar with apples. Cheddar with pork and apples.
  • Chèvre with ... well, almost anything.

What's in your fridge?

William Rose Benét

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