Diary of a Foodie

Huitlacoche Quesadillas

Diary of a Foodie: Season One: Noble Rot

  • Active Time:30 min
  • Start to Finish:40 min
January 2007

For Huitlacoche Mixture

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 (2- to 3-inch) fresh jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups huitlacoche (see cooks' note, below) from three (7 1/2-oz) cans or 2 1/2 cups fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For Cheese Mixture

  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese (5 ounces; see cooks' note, below)
  • 1 cup coarsely grated panela or fresh mozarella cheese (3 1/2 ounces)
  • coarsely grated añejo, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Romano cheese (1 ounce)

For Assembly

  • 6 (12-inch) thin flour tortillas
  • Special equipment:

    a well-seasoned large (2-burner) cast-iron griddle

Make huitlacoche mixture:

  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350F (for heating quesadillas).
  • Cook onion and chiles in 3 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until well softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in huitlacoche, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until almost all of liquid is evaporated (if using fresh or thawed frozen, cook until mixture is aromatic and wilted), 3 to 7 minutes.

Make cheese mixture:

  • Combine cheeses (if using three kinds).

Assemble and cook quesadillas:

  • Spread tortillas out on a work surface. Divide cheese mixture among tortillas, spreading each portion over half of the tortilla and leaving a 1/2-inch border along edge. Top cheese with huitlacoche mixture (about 1/4 cup per tortilla if using fresh or 1/3 cup canned). Fold over each tortilla to enclose filling.
  • Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter.
  • Heat dry griddle over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brush one side of a quesadilla with melted butter and cook, buttered side down, until light golden, about 1 minute. Brush uncoated side with butter, then flip over and cook until underside is golden and cheese is beginning to melt, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a large baking sheet and cook remaining quesadillas in same manner, transferring to sheet.
  • When all quesadillas are golden, transfer baking sheet to oven and bake until cheese begins to ooze, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve hot, whole or cut into wedges.
Cooks' notes:
  • Huitlacoche is an earthy, smoky flavored fungus that grows naturally on corn. In Mexico, it is treated as a delicacy and used in a variety of dishes such as quesadillas, tamales, and soups.
  • Fresh huitlacoche is available from Burns Farms (352-429-4048); frozen is available from Fresh & Wild, Inc. (800-222-5578); canned is available at Latino markets and at mexgrocer.com, gourmetsleuth.com, and kitchenmarket.com.
  • In place of the mixture of three cheeses, you can use 10 ounces Oaxaca string cheese (queso Oaxaca) or mozzarella (not fresh), pulled into shreds (about 3 1/2 cups). Manchego, añejo, and queso Oaxaca are available at many cheese shops and Latino markets and from igourmet.com.
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