Cinco de Mayo gives me the opportunity to post one of my most unusual recipes. I created a Mexican foods merger. It started with my new Panini press. I’m still so charmed by the way it irons my food that I wanted to try quesadillas. But I wanted the filling to be like a chicken fajita And I was using a can of enchilada sauce.
Yes, it would be three different dishes in one. Hence my Chicken Enchilada Fajita Quesadillas were born. They really weren’t difficult to make. The only difficult part was that I hadn’t realized how little filling goes in a quesadilla! My first one leaked and dripped and oozed and I had a devil of a time removing it from my Panini press. But more on that later.
I had most a large roasted chicken leftover in the fridge, already deboned and ready to eat. I put that into my slow cooker with a can of enchilada sauce on high.
In a nonstick skillet on medium high I drizzled some oil and fried a sliced onion and 2 smaller sweet bell peppers cut into strips. When they were browned a bit I added them to the slow cooker.
I stirred the contents together, added ½ teaspoon of chili powder, ½ teaspoon of cumin, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. I stirred again and put the lid on the slow cooker.
I let my enchilada/fajita mix cook on high for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. I taste tested and added another ½ teaspoon of salt. The chicken had absorbed a great deal of the enchilada sauce so it wasn’t a very wet mixture. That was good; I didn’t want mushy quesadillas. I added a can of drained black beans the final half hour to heat through.
When I was ready to make the quesadillas I brushed oil on one side of the tortilla then laid it oil side down on a dinner plate. I spread the filling about 2/3 of the way to the edges, then topped it with a pile of shredded cheddar. I maybe used ½ cup of cheese per tortilla. I wanted lots of melted cheesy goodness.
Then I placed the second tortilla on top and brushed it with oil. It was ready for the griddle.
I used a spatula to slide the quesadilla onto the griddle, adjusting the top tortilla that slipped off. I pulled the top of the press down and let the quesadilla sizzle away. When I peeked and saw the mess oozing out I adjusted the amount of filling I was putting on the next quesadilla to ready it for the griddle.
As I removed the first quesadilla onto a dinner plate, it was dripping beans and cheese and chicken all over the counter. What a mess! I got it onto the plate and looked down at it. I was ready to quit. I did have the thought that this was going to take longer than I expected, so I pulled out a sheet pan and put the quesadilla on it and set it into the oven. I heated the oven to 300°F and went back to making quesadillas.
I had to clean the griddle to prevent the wandering bits from burning on the grill.. Scraping the remains off the bottom grill became such a mess that I burned yet another finger (previous attempts using my Panini press had already produced two burns, one quite large and still painful). I decided to flip the plates and use the flat ones, which isn’t an easy task when they’re hot.
The flat plates would also iron a larger crisp spot on the top and bottom of the quesadillas as well. I carefully used potholders to switch the plates and set the second quesadilla on it and closed the top. And waited. I crossed my fingers, including the burnt one (my thumb). When I heard the press start to sizzle again I knew the quesadilla was leaking again. Sigh.
But it wasn’t so bad. Just a little of the cheese and sauce was leaking and using the spatula I scooted it back to the edges and it stayed there. When the tortillas were browned I was able to lift the quesadilla off quickly with the spatula and put it onto a dinner plate. I slid it off the plate and onto the sheet pan in the oven and moved on to the next one.
Again I cut back on the amount of filling, realizing that for the price they charge for a quesadilla at a restaurant, they are making a fortune! There are not many ingredients in each one! That annoyed me. I rarely order a quesadilla, but I probably won’t now. I will make my own. Once I perfect the process, I can make them at home. Maybe. My burnt thumb was giving me the side-eye.
By the third and fourth quesadilla I was on a roll. It worked well, not much oozed and tried to run away and they crisped up nicely. I made 5 in all, including the huge soggy one. I tried to cut one up immediately and realized they needed to set and firm up a bit. I also learned a pizza cutter works better than a knife to cut them into fourths.
I served the quesadillas for dinner with small dishes of sour cream and salsa. The quesadillas were really good; the enchilada sauce and extra seasonings were a delicious marinade for the veggies and chicken. The quesadilla sections were wiggly and messy the first few bites but firmed up quickly so that we could dip them and eat them by hand.
My P.S. ate 2 ½, he liked them so much. I could only eat one but I have my eye on the leftovers I cut and refrigerated. I bet they’ll be good cold. Mmmm! And I also had enough filling leftover to make something interesting. Maybe a quesadilla omelet for two? How about a Scrambled Egg Chicken Fajita Quesadilla for breakfast? Hmmm…
Chicken Enchilada Fajita Quesadillas
3 cups roasted chicken; in pieces
1 can enchilada sauce
1 onion; cut in halves and sliced (like more onion? Add more!
1 large sweet bell pepper; cut into strips (any color. Add more pepper as desired)
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
15 ounce can black beans; drained
Sour cream for dipping (optional
Salsa for dipping (optional)
Tortillas (I used small)
Saute onions and sweet bell peppers in oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until lightly browned. Transfer to slow cooker or crock pot. Add enchilada sauce, chicken and seasonings. Stir and cover.
Cook on high for 2 hours, adding black beans the last ½ hour.
Oil one side of the tortilla, then lay oil side down on a plate. Add filling with a slotted spoon, spreading to about 1 ½” from edges. Top with ½ cup shredded cheddar. Place second tortilla on top and brush with oil.
Place quesadilla on the grill or a large nonstick skillet and cook until lightly browned. If using a skillet, flip and cook until second side is browned.
Let cool about 5 minutes, cut into sections (a pizza cutter works well) and serve with sour cream and salsa if desired.
This recipe makes about 8 small quesadillas.