Speaking of fair food, Wine Fest and the Southern New Mexico State Fair are never complete without quesadillas with asadero and green chile. I'm pretty sure these quesadillas are a regional thing, so I set out to recreate it for all you good people out there. It is NOT meant to be kept secret. Despite the fact that these specific quesadillas are usually consumed alongside wine at the summer festivals, quesadillas in general remind me of my childhood. Most summers of our later elementary and middle school life, my brother and I both stayed home while our parents worked. In order to keep us from completely wasting away our lives, my mom would leave us a schedule.
Needless to say, we were in the most trouble of our lives when my mom came home unannounced and we were watching TV during our time allotted for practicing music. And when I say BIG TROUBLE, I mean all we did the rest of the summer was pull crabgrass in our front yard. Our punishment was to pull it until it was gone. And as you all probably know, once it's there, it's never just "gone."
Aaaaanyway, back to melty, cheesy, spice. Those summer days were also filled with making our own lunches. My brother chose most days to venture into easy-mac land. I, however, had a much more sophisticated palate. I usually made myself some pan-fried hot dogs, a sandwich, or the ever-pleasing quesadilla.
My brother and I are both EXTREMELY experienced in the area of making quesadillas. We basically have it down to an art. There are a few keys.
First, it's necessary to spread softened butter directly on both sides of the quesadilla before it goes into the pan. Then you heat up the pan and plop the buttered quesadilla in there. Why, might you ask? Well, this ensures even browning and crunch. If you simply drop a pat of butter in the pan, the first side will get brown, but the second side will have no butter left. This leaves you doing the quesadilla chicken dance as you try to drop more butter in, mid-flip. It sometimes gets ugly, ending with a quesadilla on the floor. Then you're faced with the dilemma of whether or not to eat the floor-dilla.
My advice is to avoid the possibility of a drop, and butter the thing before it hits the pan.
Second, you need to have medium-low heat. BE PATIENT, young grasshoppers. If you are too, get-in-my-belly-quesadilla, about it then you'll end up with a burnt tortilla and only slightly melty cheese. Low and slow ensures maximum melt along with that perfect golden brown crunch.
If you've never had asadero cheese, the consistency is a little bit like American Singles. The taste is mild and creamy like provolone. It's a Mexican cheese that is often used for quesadillas, tacos and nachos, simply because of its crazy melt-factor. It melts down to almost a thick cheese sauce consistency.
At the Wine Fest and Southern NM State Fair, they use this cheese for quesadillas and then they lay a big strip of green chile in there. You can just chop off the top and put the whole roasted chile in there. If you like a little less heat, like I do, you can slice one side of the roasted chile and open the whole thing up. Then scrape out the seeds and place the whole chile on top of the cheese.
The huge chunk of chile makes these quesadillas one of a kind, as opposed to the chopped chile that you generally find in green chile chicken quesadillas. Trust me on this one. The asadero has a mild flavor, and adding a whole green chile helps that unique southwest flavor REALLY shine.
Give it a try, and let me know what you think!