This takes less time if a store-bought, chipotle-flavored barbecue sauce and prepared garnishes are used, but these recipes will add layers of flavor. If you make the sauce, you'll have enough to make another batch of steak.
A word about reheating: Quesadillas are best eaten fresh. If they need to be reheated, avoid the microwave, which makes them soggy, and the oven, which dries them out. Instead, warm the quesadilla in a nonstick skillet over medium or medium-high heat, turning it once, until the cheese softens and the tortilla crisps slightly, 3 to 4 minutes total. (Those with thick fillings will remain somewhat soft.)
- For the barbecue sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups thinly sliced onion
- 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 2 dried ancho chili peppers, broken into pieces, with seeds removed
- 6 dried chipotle peppers, broken into pieces, with seeds removed
- 10 large cloves roasted garlic (may substitute 4 teaspoons prepared roasted garlic)
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup water
- For the quesadillas
- 1 1/2 pounds top sirloin steak
- 2 tablespoons Jimmy the B's Wildcat Barbecue Spice Rub (see related recipe) or salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 4 10-inch flour tortillas
- 2 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 10 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- For the garnishes (optional)
- 1/2 cup crema (recipe above)
- 1 cup salsa fresca (recipe above)
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions, green parts only
- 4 sprigs cilantro
To make the barbecue sauce: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, and when it is warmed through, add the dried chili and chipotle peppers, roasted garlic, molasses and ketchup, stirring to combine. Add salt to taste and some or all of the water to adjust the consistency. Cook for 8 minutes and then remove from the heat.
Puree the sauce in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. (Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, if desired.) Set aside, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 8 days.
For the quesadillas: Rub the meat with the barbecue spice rub or salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare an outdoor grill for medium-high direct heat. Grill the meat for at least 10 to 12 minutes total, turning to sear it on both sides. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly across the grain.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over low heat, warm 1 cup of the barbecue sauce. Add the sliced meat and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Wrap the stack of tortillas with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to make them pliable.
Spread 5 tablespoons of the cheese over half of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place one-quarter of the barbecue-sauced meat over the cheese, then top with another 5 tablespoons of the cheese. Fold each tortilla over and press gently. Brush the tops with half of the softened butter.
On a dry griddle or large pan over medium heat, cook the quesadillas in batches for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until they are browned and crisp on the edges, using the remaining butter as needed. (Finished quesadillas may be kept warm by placing them on a baking sheet in a 250-degree oven.)
For the garnishes: To make a cup of simple crema, add 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to 1 cup of sour cream, stirring well to combine. For 1 cup of salsa fresca, in a medium bowl, combine 1/4 of a red onion, diced; 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced; 1 to 2 jalapeno chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced; 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro; 1 teaspoon salt; a pinch of sugar; 1 tablespoon lime juice; 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons Mexican or dark beer. Stir gently and allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Cut each quesadilla into 6 to 8 wedges and divide among warmed plates, serve with a streak of the crema, the salsa fresca, chopped scallions and cilantro as garnishes, if desired. Serve hot.
Recipes adapted from "Cocina," by Leland Atkinson (Ten Speed Press, 1996).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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