Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cheesy chicken quesadillas!

It's nearing the end of the week...you can see it, almost smell it (You may ask, "What does the weekend smell like?" - Let me tell you, it smells like sunshine and happiness!) its so close, you can almost touch it!  However, its only Thursday, so you're wanting a delicious quick supper to put on the table.  I get it.  I can help.
Tonight, we're having cheesy chicken quesadillas!  If that doesn't scream "hang in there, it's almost Friday" comfort food, I'm not sure what does!
A lot of this can be made ahead, during a day off, or over the weekend, so this the time it takes to make this quick meal can be whittled down to next to nothing.


Recipe:

For baking the chicken:
2 bone-in* chicken breasts
1 tsp of each: Kosher salt, Cumin, Paprika, Chili powder
Olive oil for drizzling

For the sauce:
1/4 C Vegetable oil                                             1/4 tsp Cumin
2 TBS Self rising flour                                         1/4 tsp Garlic powder
1/4 C Chili powder                                              Salt to taste
1 (8 oz) Can of tomato sauce                              ~ 1/4 C Cheese of choice
8 oz Water

1/2 Can of black beans
Let's get started!  First, preheat the oven to 425* and line your baking sheet with aluminum foil (you'll thank me for this later.  Makes clean up a breeze!) ,drizzle the chicken breasts with the olive oil.  Sprinkle the chicken with the Kosher salt, cumin, paprika, and chili powder.  
Once the oven is preheated, slide the chicken in and let it do its thing for about 15 minutes.  Then lower the heat to 325*, and let it continue to cook for about 40 minutes.
 


After it has cooked, and cooled, get your hands in there and shred it up!  It smells so amazing as it cooks, the chili powder and cumin coming through, making your stomach sit up and take notice that something tasty is coming its way.  I like to shred my chicken on the same pan I cook it on; that way, any juices that have come out during the cooking can coat the shredded chicken, ensuring it stays juicy and keeps the spices on the chicken, not the aluminum foil to be tossed out with the trash.  

While this is cooking, pull out a skillet, add in the 1/4 C vegetable oil and 2 Tbs self rising flour.  Over medium heat, let these two ingredients cook until it turns a peanut butter color.  Basically, you're making a roux (this is what will thicken your sauce) for the quesadilla sauce.  This is what it will look like when the two are first combined, and the second picture is after it has been simmering over medium heat for about five minutes:

 
Once your oil/flour mixture reaches this color, carefully add in your tomato sauce and water (be careful, you're adding a liquid to hot oil.  I've never had a problem with it, but you don't want it to pop on you).  Let it thicken for a couple of minutes, then add in your seasonings.

 Once everything has been added in, and simmered for a few minutes, this is how the consistency will look.  This spoon was just laid into the sauce for a second, and it coated the back.  You don't want it to be too thin, or else it will just dribble out of your quesadilla.  It will still be delicious, but it will be all over your plate, and that's not what you want!

Once you're happy with the seasonings (taste it, see if you need to add salt, or more chili powder.  If you taste it, and it tastes flat, add more salt.  Whenever you taste anything, and it tastes like it needs something, it usually needs more salt), add in the cheese of your choice.  Today, I went with a Cheddar blend, but some Pepper Jack here would be wonderful, too.  As temping as it is to just dump all of the cheese in at once, hold yourself back.  Add the cheese a little at a time, as pictured here.  If you dump it all in, in one go, the cheese won't melt into the sauce; it will sit in a melted lump in the middle of the sauce, and there's no coming back from that.  Learn from my mistakes!  Add the cheese in, a sprinkle at a time, and stir it in until it is all melted, then add some more.
           
   Once the cheese is all incorporated, and you're happy with the taste and texture of the sauce, stir in the beans, then add the chicken in.  No, you're not crazy, I had to switch out pans....no one in my family can estimate the correct-size-of-pan-to-amount-of-food ratio, so we're constantly having to get bigger pans/bowls.  Its a few more dishes to wash, but I'm used to it!
How great does that look!  If you just put this in a bowl and eat it as is, I won't tell anybody...it will be our little secret.... 

There are a couple of different ways you can go about assembling your quesadilla.  I like to pull out my electric griddle, because it lets me have easy access to the quesadilla as it cooks, from all angles.  I hate having to chase it around a skillet, trying to flip it.  (But, if you don't have an electric griddle (or a griddle of any type), a skillet will work just fine as well!  No worries!)  I lay the tortilla on the griddle for a minute, the put a healthy amount of chicken/bean/sauce mixture down, and top it off with some more cheese.  A little extra cheese never hurt anyone, right?  I love all things cheesy, movies, jokes, food...you get the idea....


After another minute, check the underside of the tortilla.  If you're happy with the color, go on a make the quesadilla hug itself.  



 Once everything is toasty and crunchy, pull it off to a cutting board, and let it rest for a minute or two.  This will let the sauce and cheese set up just a bit, so it doesn't drain out the second you cut into it.

 



 

*If you don't have any bone-in chicken breasts, no worries, just use boneless chicken and put it into the oven at 350* for about 25 minutes.

That's it, boys and girls!  Like I said, a lot of this can be make-ahead, once you get the point of the sauce/bean/chicken mixture, you can let it cool down and stick it into the fridge for later in the week, and assemble the quesadillas for a really quick supper, or even make it in the mornings for a great lunch!  Or, you can even get the mixture to the same point, and put it into the freezer for a supper a few weeks down the line!
I hope y'all have a great weekend, and I'll see you back here on Tuesday!