Toothsome ingredients such as venison and chipotle chicken help chefs elevate quesadillas with creativity and contemporary flavor.
This article first appeared in the 1 March 2009 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. Visit the R&I website to find out more about the magazine or to search its recipe database.
By Kate Leahy, Senior Associate Editor
Chipotle Chicken Quesadilla (pictured above)
University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, Calif. Quesadillas' on-campus popularity gives Executive Chef Vaughn Vargus room to experiment. In this wholly Southwestern version, grated Jack and manchego cheeses melt into grilled chipotle chicken, roasted corn, black beans, fresh and pickled jalapeños and cilantro. Tomatillo salsa is a fitting garnish.
Equinox, Washington, D.C. By augmenting mild Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses with grilled venison seasoned with chili powder, cumin and garlic, Chef Todd Gray gives quesadillas a heady edge; grilling the filled quesadilla adds a crisp, smoky char. Gray's "backyard salsa," a mix of tomatoes, chile and cilantro, contributes a bright finish.
Shrimp and Crab Quesadilla
Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, Boulder, Colo. Part quesadilla, part tostada, Executive Chef Ian Clark's interpretation features potatoes, chorizo, queso fresco, and sautéed onions and peppers, all topped with a salad of watercress, avocado, crab and shrimp. Alongside are two eggs over easy, enriching the dish's flavor and texture.
Kerbey Lane Cafe, multiple locations. Along with Hippy Burgers and the scrambled-egg-and-tortilla dish known as migas, several kinds of quesadillas are on the menu at these 24-hour eateries in Austin, Texas. Here, shredded duck, caramelized onions, spinach and white Cheddar fill the griddled wedges, which are offered with pico de gallo and salsa.