With this year’s Super Bowl occurring in Arizona, you can be sure that there will be plenty of sports fans, athletes, and celebrities chowing down on the local spicy and zesty Mexican and Southwestern cuisines. Maybe you aren’t able to make it to the Big Game, but there is no reason why you and your game day guests shouldn’t be able to feast like you are.
When one thinks about Mexican or Southwestern football party appetizers, the first one to come to mind is usually nachos. Nachos are fine, but there’s always that issue with topping consistency. Every single plate of nachos that I have seen seemed to pile all of the toppings in the center, leaving some of the tortilla chips so laden down with cheese that they can’t even be lifted without falling apart, while the others have barely any toppings at all.
Allow me to present the quesadilla for your consideration. Quesadillas are one of the Mexicans’ favorite simple, and most versatile snacks. The word is derived from their word for cheese, queso, combined with the word tortilla, and it means, logically enough, cheese filled tortilla. I prefer quesadillas to nachos because each section is like your own little tortilla sandwich, with the filling neatly and evenly packed in between the two crispy tortilla pieces. You can use your creativity and fill them with whatever ingredients strike you as being as good combination, from standard cheese and salsa to sauteed vegetables, meats, fruits, and exotic spices. They take mere minutes to cook, but take even less time to be gobbled up, so make a large batch! Keep backups warm by wrapping in foil and storing in a warm oven. Here are some tips for preparing these quesadillas:
- If you can’t find chorizo or if you want a healthier substitute, I suggest dicing up some turkey kielbasa as a substitute. It won’t be quite as spicy, but you can always add a few dashed of cayenne pepper or chili powder to the quesadilla prior to grilling.
- Instead of using the two types of grated cheese, you can always purchase a bag of the shredded "Mexican Blend", located with the refrigerated meat and cheese in you grocery store.
- If mangoes are not in season, or even if they are, buy a bag of frozen chopped mangoes and let them thaw. This will save you some preparation time and usually costs about the same as buying fresh mangoes, which can be expensive. If you can’t find fresh or frozen mangoes, try substituting diced pineapple.
- Purchasing a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store will save you the trouble of roasting your own chicken. Mix leftover shredded chicken with barbecue sauce and make barbecue chicken sandwiches.
- Substitute whole wheat tortillas for the regular flour tortillas, and use low-fat cheese and sour cream for a healthier quesadilla.
Mango, Chorizo, and Chicken Quesadillas
1 link Spanish chorizo sausage (about 4 ounces), diced
4 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped peeled mango
4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup roasted corn and black bean salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage to the pan and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken and saute for 2 minutes or until heated through. Remove the chicken-sausage mixture from the pan and set aside.
Sprinkle two of the tortillas with 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese. Top each tortilla with half of the chicken-sausage mixture, 1/4 cup mango, 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro, and the remaining two tortillas, pressing gently to adhere.
Heat a grill pan or the same skillet that you used to saute the sausage (wiped clean) over medium heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add 1 tortilla stack to the pan (if you are using a double-burner grill pan, you can grill both tortilla stacks at once.) Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, flipping carefully, until lightly browned and heated through. Repeat with the remaining tortilla stack.
Cut each stack into six wedges. Serve topped with the salsa and sour cream and garnish with cilantro sprigs.