SPICY BEEF QUESADILLA
These delightfully simple beauties are the Mexican version of a toasted sandwich made with corn or flour tortilla stuffed and folded with different combinations of tasty ingredients.
Pronounced kay-suh-dee-uh these are in my opinion sensational. For this recipe, I’ve used lightly spiced beef, gooey melted cheese and pickled jalapeños. Once you make these ‘little cheesy things’ for the first time you can start to get creative with your choice of fillings. I recently made some using 24hr slow cooked wagyu brisket, which was remarkably tender and flavoursome. You can use chicken, pork or even fish.
They make an excellent dinner party starter as they are so quick to prepare, as they can me assembled in just minutes. Also can be kept warm in the oven wrapped in foil until needed then plonked on the table with some napkins and people can help themselves. If there are any left over, simply place them in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch, as they can easily be reheated or are even nice cold.
Did you know? Originally from present day Mexico the indigenous word for this type of food was ‘quesaditzin’ meaning ‘folded tortilla’ in Nahuatl. Quesadilla, however, comes from the Spanish word for cheese ‘queso’ and ‘dilla’ which roughly translates as dude, so it literally translates as ‘cheese dude’. This recipe also uses black beans; also known as black turtle beans, this small, shiny variety of the common bean is especially popular in Latin American cuisine, but can also be found in the Cajun and Creole cuisines of south Louisiana. Like all varieties of the common bean, it is native to the Americas, but has been wildly popularised around the world as a great source of protein.
Chef Dylan tip: Have your frypan nice and hot before cooking the mince. Add the mince in small batches to ensure you get a nice sizzle on the beef and it browns up nicely. If you add too much mince into your frypan all at once the frypan will cool down and the moisture in the beef won’t evaporate. The beef will stew, and this is not ideal.
2019 Northeast Los Angeles
Reaching down to press the well-worn faded blue stop button of bus number 81, I hear the tell-tale ding of the bell signalling the end of my 35-minute ride from Union St station bus terminal in central LA.
I step off the bus and realise I’m in a valley surrounded by steep luscious green hills on either side. It’s mid-morning; looking up I see dark grey clouds impregnated with rain looming threateningly overhead, a cold wind whips past sending a shiver down my spine. I pull up my hood and gaze down at my phone, Google tells me I’m a mere kilometre away.
I turn left and head down the iconic Californian palmed street towards my home for the next week. I soon reach a series of old commercial shopfronts all in varying degrees of dilapidation with “Se vende” signs slapped across the boarded-up windows. A little further along I come across a parking lot where five solemn, homeless-looking men sit cross legged on the ground all with arms outstretched warming their hands by a gently smouldering fire in an old 44-gallon drum cut in half. My empty stomach growls at me reminding me I haven’t eaten since last night. I press on keeping my eyes peeled for a way to satisfy it.
Ahead I notice a group of teenagers sitting on a bench, all munching on something wrapped in grease proof paper. I get closer and I can see it’s some sort of fast food. As I pass them, a small kid catches my eye. He looks indigenous Mexican and is wearing a red LA Raiders cap. “That looks delicious” I say, “What is it?”. “Quesadilla” he replies a little shocked at my strange accent. They all pause munching now and lock eyes on me. “I’m starving” I joke laughing nervously which suddenly seems to break the ice. I turn to my new compadre and ask, “Can you tell me where I can get one of those?”. He stops chewing and with his mouth still full he flicks his head to the right directing me further on. I now see a Mexican food truck with a small line of people parked 20 metres away. I nod understandingly whilst giving him a thumbs up and thank him “Gracias amigo”. Walking away out of the corner of my eye I see him smile, turn to his friends and mutter “Gringos eh” and they all erupt in laughter.
Have a little fun with this easy recipe, you will not be disappointed.
PREP TIME: 5mins
COOKING TIME: 10 mins
500g beef mince
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp. CREOLE
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, roughly chopped
400g can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup. chopped fresh coriander
4 tsp. canola oil, divided
4 large flour tortillas
200g shredded pizza cheese
1 lime, cut into wedges
Sour cream, for serving
Place a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat and sizzle the beef, adding small clumps at a time then start to break it up with a wooden spoon. Move beef to one side then add garlic and onion cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add CREOLE, tomato paste,1 tbsp water and black beans. Bring to the boil and then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes stirring every now and then.
Warm a large non-stick pan over medium heat with 1 teaspoon oil. Place a flour tortilla in the pan and sprinkle half with cheese, beef mixture, a little jalapeño and more cheese. Fold tortilla over and fry lightly on both sides until cheese is melted.
Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Cut quesadillas into wedges
Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of coriander and wedges of lime y buen provecho.