Sorry for the intermittent posting as of late, guys. My most recent recipe posts were scheduled ahead of time, except for this one today. I just came back from a vacation in Italy, and one of the items on my to-do list since coming back was to write this recipe in time for Cinco de Mayo. Well…that didn’t happen. I fell asleep twice while trying to finish this post, and on the second time, I woke up at 4 in the morning realizing that I had in fact fallen asleep. Laptop on my side. Lamp on my nightstand still on. #bloggingfail
Anyway, James and I had an unforgettable time exploring parts of Italy we haven’t been to before. We did some sightseeing in Venice, went on a road trip in the Emilia Romagna region, and spent a couple of days hiking in the beautiful Cinque Terre – eating amazing foods along the way of course. The most memorable meal we had was at the three-Michelin star Osteria Francescana, where we selected a seven-course tasting of traditional Modenese dishes with a contemporary twist. I’ll tell you about that meal and the rest of our Italian adventure next time.
Today I have an interesting dish to share with you, or rather, an interesting ingredient.
I love when I go out to eat and am inspired by something I have ordered which makes me think, “wow…I need to make this at home!” I had huitlacoche for the first time at Toloache, and thought that it tasted earthy, like some sort of mushrooms. Plus, the blackish purplish color just looks interesting. Don’t you agree?
Huitlacoche is actually corn smut (a fungus that grows on corn kernels) and one of the greatest delicacies of the Mexican cuisine. Some call it corn mushrooms (I guess it sounds more appetizing than corn smut). Regardless, my curiosity was peaked. Huitlacoche has been on my radar for quite some time, and after some intensive searching, I found that a small Mexican grocery store in the East Village actually sells them in cans. The same day, I picked up a can, and voila, made these quesadillas.
I know what you’re probably thinking, “those aren’t the prettiest quesadillas I’ve ever seen.” And your right. But if you can get your hands on a can of this stuff, why not give this recipe a try to see what it’s all about? Whether you’ll eventually hate it or love it, you’ll have taken a culinary risk!
- 2 tbsps vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 lb fresh or canned huitlacoche
- 1 serrano chile pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh epazote, finely chopped (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 12 oz pepper jack or any other melting cheese blend, shredded
- 12 small corn or flour tortillas
- Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook onions until they become soft and translucent. Add huitlacoche, pepper, and epazote, and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid from the huitlacoche has reduced. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Heat a griddle or large skillet over low heat, and warm both sides of a tortilla until it is softened. Spread a few spoonfuls of huitlacoche and a handful of cheese on one half of the tortilla, and fold over into a half-moon shape.
- Cook both sides until tortilla is toasted on both sides and cheese has melted. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve warm with fresh salsa or guacamole.