Crisped-cheese quesadilla

You've heard me talk about Dorado before. The important takeaways have been: 1. we never have a bad night at Dorado, 2. the Mexican Car Crash... and now 3. the crisped-cheese quesadilla. 

The quesadilla at Dorado brought my indifference towards quesadillas to a notch above obsession, if such a notch exists. And it's essentially for one reason: the crispy golden cheese around the edges. It sounds simple, but it's such a game-changer. The cheese takes on an entirely new flavor when it's been fried on the griddle, and the quesadilla is no longer a one-note tune of melted cheese. It's crispy and savory and delightful. I order it as is, without any meat, which is how I recreated it at home, as well. You could, of course, add chicken, shrimp, steak, or anything else. I love it like this, with just some extra flavorful onions, jalapeño peppers, and black beans.

The only real tricks here are to use a pretty hot griddle and a lottttt of cheese (I won't say I was horrified at the amount of cheese it took to rival Dorado's, but I was surprised. Don't worry, it's worth it). Sprinkle cheese well outside the edge of the tortilla on one entire half. As it melts together and bubbles up and fries, it becomes a unified halo to be handled with a bit of care when flipping. 

Crisped-cheese quesadilla

Makes one large quesadilla
1 T oil
¼ cup finely diced white or yellow onion
1 T minced jalapeño pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch salt
Cooking spray
1 large burrito-sized soft tortilla
About 1¾ cups freshly grated cheese (I like pepper jack)
Heaping ¼ cup rinsed and drained black beans

Heat oil in a small pan over medium low heat. Cook onion and pepper until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat and set aside in a small bowl. Heat a nonstick griddle pan over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. When it has come to temperature, place soft tortilla on griddle, making sure there’s plenty of space on one side of the circle to add an outer ring of cheese that will crisp up. Add cheese to half the tortilla, sprinkling about an inch or so outside the edge of the tortilla. It will look like a lot of cheese (because it is a lot of cheese and it’s so, so worth it). Then sprinkle on the cooked onions and peppers, as well as the black beans (don’t sprinkle these on the extended ring of cheese—that part should just be cheese alone). Cook for a few minutes, watching the cheese melt and bubble and begin to crisp around the edges. Then carefully use your spatula and your hand to fold the plain half of the tortilla over the cheese covered part, leaving the outer edge of crisping cheese uncovered so it’s sticking out from the half moon. Then use the spatula (or two, or your hands, as well) to flip the now half-moon shaped tortilla over quickly and carefully, keeping the crispy cheese part in tact (it won’t be perfect, but any leftover bits can certainly still be devoured). Cook for about a minute more; you’re just letting the other side of the cheesey edge crisp up, which will now happen pretty quickly. Transfer quesadilla to a cutting board and use a big sharp knife to slice into 4 equal pieces. Serve with salsa, sour cream, and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.