Caramelized Onion Chicken Quesadillas

December 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

E: I love “Mexican” food. I really do. I put the term in quotes only because I’m not qualified to judge what is legitimately Mexican and what has been Americanized enough that it isn’t really fair to give it that name. In any case I wanted to make some quesadillas, and was trying to come up with something tasty to put in them. I remembered back to something my college friend David, his girlfriend Natalie, and I made once for a food co-op in college. It consisted of caramelized onions, roasted poblano peppers, and some sort of crème fraiche style dairy product, and I remember thinking how much it tasted like something I’d had in quesadilla form at a restaurant one time. So I decided to use it as inspiration—taking some liberties of course.

cut to reveal the deliciousness inside

I cut the sour cream / crème fraiche since that isn’t my favorite thing in the world. Joanna and I decided together that we would use green bell pepper instead of a poblano. And we also wanted to put some chicken in, so we added some garlic and mushrooms to go with that, and some fresh tomato to round it off. Made with homemade tortillas, these are really, really tasty. I’m going to go through the full instructions, in which we cooked the two fillings separately. But you could do them together if you want to speed things up.


1 yellow/sweet onion (fairly large, because it cooks down a lot)
1 green bell pepper (or 2 poblanos)
2-3 cloves garlic
4-6 crimini mushrooms
1 tomato
1 dash vermouth or white wine (or water)
1 small pinch cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese (a handful per quesadilla)

Tortillas – preferably made from scratch
Start off by cutting things up. Slice the onions thinly, and do the same to the bell pepper. Then you can toss the onions into a pan with some olive oil over medium high heat, and work on the rest of the prep. Caramelizing the onions takes the longest .

becoming golden and tasty

Mince the garlic, and slice the mushrooms.

m-m-m-m-mushrooms (and other things)

And dice up the tomato and set it aside.

dicing tomatoes is one of my favorite prep tasks, actually

Now the only thing you have left to prep is the chicken. Slice it thinly, and you are ready to go.

When the onions are caramelized nicely, toss in the vermouth, wine, or water to deglaze the pan and scoop up all the nice browned bits. Add the peppers and cook until they are soft. If you wanted to go all-out you could have put the whole pepper in the oven / on a gas burner / on the grill for a while to roast it, and then have peeled it and sliced it. If you did so, it would be pretty much cooked at this step, and you’d only need to cook it with the onions for a few minutes to get all the flavors mixed together.

the peppers have just been added

Once this is cooked, set it aside. Add some more oil to the pan, and cook the mushrooms until browned. Then add the chicken pieces, and a little more oil if necessary (the mushrooms tend to absorb a lot).

chicken cooked on one side

Once the chicken appears to be cooked through, add the garlic, cumin, and some salt and pepper. Cook for another minute or two, to make sure the chicken is done through, and then remove from the pan and set aside.

Cook up your tortillas (or take them out of a package) and grate some cheese. We used cheddar and pepper jack.

In a nonstick pan—we used the same one we were using for everything else—place one of your cooked tortillas, and put some of the peppers and onions, and chicken, mushrooms, and garlic on top of it. Sprinkle on some tomatoes, add some more salt and pepper if necessary, and spread grated cheese over the top.

a pile of stuff!

Then, place another tortilla over the pile of stuff, and flip it over to heat the other side and melt the cheese. If you are cooking just one of these (and they are quite filling) then everything should be well heated and you can just serve and eat. If you are doing two or more quesadillas, remove your first one and put it on a plate or something in the oven on warm. Then they will all be warm when it is time to serve.

these were as good as anything I've gotten in a restaurant

We thought these were delicious, and I think this general process is a good way to make quesadilla-like foods. We certainly plan on making some more at some point. We hope you enjoy!


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