Stewed Cactus Quesadillas (Quesadillas de Tinga de Nopal)

"The quesadillas I love to make are actually traditional empanadas. The dough is made with corn masa, filled with either spicy pork, stringy cheese, or whatever is fresh and on-hand. They are fried until crispy and golden brown and served immediately before the dough has a chance to toughen."

 

Frank and Lynne Wiedemann have been living and learning in and about Mexico since 1989 where they opened a cooking school in Todos Santos to learn the art of Mexican cooking and explore Baja. Now in Idaho, Lynne teaches cooking classes, caters Mexican fiestas, cook and produces television segments for the “In The Kitchen” TV show.


Ingredients
For the Dough
1
tablespoon
achiote paste
1/4
cup
orange juice
1/4
cup
grape seed oil
2
tablespoons
fresh marjoram
2
cups
chicken broth
4
cups
masa harina
For the Tinga de Nopal
1
tablespoon
butter
1/2
white onion, julienned
4
nopales, julienned
2
cloves
garlic, minced
1
tablespoon
Mexican Oregano
1
chile chipotle in adobo, diced
2
tomatoes, seeded and julienned
1/2
cup
chicken broth
1
cup
vegetable oil
1/4
cup
crema, thinned with milk to a pouring consistency
1
cup
grated hard cheese (queso anejo or queso cotijo)
1
avocado, sliced
*
Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
To prepare the masa: In a bowl pulverize achiote with your fingers. Dissolve achiote in orange juice and grape seed oil; add marjoram, mixing just to incorporate ingredients.
Add 1 ½ cups of chicken broth and knead dough until soft and pulls away from sides of bowl. Masa is forgiving, if too wet add more masa harina and knead well. If too dry knead in more liquid.
Form into a ball, cover with a dishtowel and let rest while preparing tinga.
To prepare the Tinga: Melt butter and sauté onion for one minute, then add nopal, garlic, oregano, and chile chipotle and continue to cook for another minute.
Add tomato, salt, pepper, ½ cup chicken broth and cook on medium high heat for 10 minutes.
Cool and reserve.
To prepare Quesadilla: Roll prepared masa into golf ball size pieces. Flatten with a tortilla press between circles of plastic wrap (cut from sandwich or freezer bags). Then lift off tortilla. Flip tortilla onto a work surface and remove other piece of plastic film.
Place about one heaping tablespoon of tinga de nopal in center of each tortilla. Fold in half pinching edges to seal. Fry in hot vegetable oil for about 5 minutes until golden brown.
Drain on paper towel.
To serve, drizzle crema over quesadillas, top with grated cheese and avocado slices. Accompany with your favorite salsa.

The base number of servings for this recipe is 12
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