Wednesday, October 23, 2013

BBQ Ham & Onion Quesadillas

Funny story about quesadillas, every single time I make these, no matter what size tortillas I buy, no matter how many come in the package, and no matter how much filling I make, I always have one, just one extra unused tortilla left over at the end.  I don't understand how this can happen to me every single time?  What the heck am I supposed to do with one tortilla??? Well I finally figured it out.  Save the pesky tortilla and when the craving strikes, make a rolled up grilled cheese!  Just take that tortilla, add a thin layer of cheese, roll it up into a spiral, and butter the outside.  Cook this up like a regular grilled cheese and ta-da, no more stinking left over tortilla. 

Despite my lack of proper portioning skills, I would say quesadillas are probably one of my top five dinner choices. I love making them at home and trying out all kinds of different combos but I also find myself ordering them often when we are out to eat if I find them on the menu.  I'm not really surprised about how much I love them because quesadillas are basically a kicked up grilled cheese on a tortilla instead of bread.  And if you didn't know this about me or you couldn't tell from my rolled up grilled cheese enthusiasm, I think grilled cheese is the perfect food!  They have the same golden brown crunchy outside and warm gooey cheese filling.  Plus the addition of the salty, savory, and sometimes a hint of sweet fillings bring the concept of grilled cheese to a whole new level.  This ham and onion filling has a great balance of flavor and texture and is one of the simplest filling combos to put together.  Quesadillas are a great weeknight dinner option because everything can come together in less than 30 minutes.  I hope you give these a try!

To make the filling for these quesadillas, I cook the onion until slightly caramelized and then add the ham and cook until heated through.  I add the barbeque sauce right before everything is finished so that it has a minute to thicken and coat everything in the pan.  If you aren't a big fan of ham, this recipe is equally as delicious with chicken.  In fact, there are tons of different fillings you could try such as grilled chicken with maybe some bacon and pico de gallo, or shaved steak with onions and peppers.   I have also seen some really great looking breakfast quesadillas with scrambled eggs and sausage.  Basically, anything that you think would taste good smothered in cheese and toasted between tortillas probably will be amazing.

I like to set up an assembly line so that everything I need is right there and ready to go.  Once you get started toasting these, things go pretty quickly.  So I line up my tortillas, a small dish of olive oil and pastry brush, grated cheese, and the ham filling. 

Start off with one tortilla and brush one side with a bit of olive oil.  Place the oiled side down on the grill pan or skillet and top the whole thing with cheese.  Then add the filling to one half of the tortilla.  That way when you close the tortilla up, the cheese melts all around the filling.  

When things start to look a little bit melty (wait a bit longer than I did for the picture below), fold the cheese only side over the filling side using a pair of tongs.  Give the tortilla a chance to brown on the outside and flip over to the other side and continue to brown.

Once the tortilla is toasted on both sides and the cheese is nice and melted, remove from the pan and let set while you cook the other quesadillas.  You don't want to cut them too soon because the cheese might ooze all over the place.

Once they have cooled, I like to use a pizza cutter and slice into three wedges.  Sour cream would probably be really great on these, but we hardly ever keep it in the house so we skipped it.  Quesadillas are also commonly served with salsa and you can totally go that route if you want, but I don't really think the flavors of this particular filling go well with salsa.  Really, just serve these however you would like.  I like to have a garden salad with this meal to balance out all that cheese!

BBQ Ham & Onion Quesadillas

2 cups diced ham steak or deli ham
1 small medium onion, sliced thinly
2 tbsp barbeque sauce
8-10 large flour tortillas
3-4 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey  jack, american, etc)
3 tbsp olive oil, divided

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion slices until tender and slightly caramelized, about 6-7 minutes.  Add diced ham and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add the barbeque sauce, cook for about 1 more minute, and remove from the heat.  Preheat a griddle, grill pan, or non-stick skillet to a medium high heat.  Set up an assembly line with the remaining olive oil, tortillas, shredded cheese, and ham mixture.  Brush one side of each tortilla with a coating of olive oil and place oiled side down on the hot griddle.  Spread a layer of cheese over the entire tortilla and place a bit of the ham mixture on one half of the tortilla.  Make sure you don't over fill the tortilla with cheese or ham.  Using tongs, fold the cheese only side half of the tortilla over the ham side to form your quesadilla.  Continue to cook and flip the quesadilla until both sides are nicely toasted and the cheese is completely melted.  Stack on a plate or cutting board and let sit for a few minutes while you cook the rest of the quesadillas.   Use a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife to cut each quesadilla into 3 or 4 wedges.  Serve with sour cream, if desired.


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