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Fried Quesadillas (Quesadilla Mijita)

Fried Quesadillas (Quesadilla Mijita)
Serves 4
If you’ve never made fresh tortillas, don’t be intimidated. Prepared masa can be bought at most Mexican markets and some restaurants; tortilla presses are readily available (even at Target). And this recipe for a flaky, fried quesadilla is about as easy as making a grilled cheese sandwich. But what a thrill it is to take this off the stove: a crackling shell filled with the earthy flavors of yellow corn, tangy cheese, and a pop of fresh epazote. Serve it with good guacamole and salsa, and maybe a few greens.
  1. ¾ cup grated manchego
  2. ½ cup grated panela
  3. ¼ cup grated cotija
  4. 1 generous tablespoon chopped fresh epazote
  5. 1 pound prepared masa
  6. 3 cups corn oil (or rice bran oil or canola oil)
  7. Salsa
  8. Guacamole
  1. THE FILLING: In a small bowl, toss together the manchego, panela, cotija, and epazote. Set aside.
  2. THE QUESADILLAS: Line a tortilla press with plastic, and press a ball of masa into a 7-inch circle. Place a heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture in the center, then fold the tortilla in half to form a “turnover.” Repeat until you have formed 8 turnovers.
  3. In a deep frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high to 375°F. Using a slotted spatula, carefully slip the quesadillas into the oil without overlapping. The oil should immediately bubble around them; don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Be sure to let the tortillas turn a true golden brown so the masa cooks through and develops flavor. Serve with your favorite salsa and guacamole.
  1. If you can’t find fresh epazote in your market, try using chopped fresh cilantro or a few pinches dried Mexican oregano. Neither are the same as epazote (there is no substitute for the real thing), but the other herbs will still add a pleasing flavor contrast.
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