Here in Chicago, we have a regional Mexican restaurant chain called “Pepe’s Tacos”. It features all the usual things you expect to find in a Mexican restaurant, but it has more of a homespun feel to it.
There is one very close to our house and when we don’t feel like cooking, my wife and I like to go there for a quiet dinner out. It’s extremely inexpensive, but it’s still a sit-down restaurant and just a comfortable experience overall.
The plates that come out of the kitchen always are set up the same way: a little refried beans, a little Spanish rice, some lettuce, a dollop of guacamole and then whatever entree you ordered, such as burritos, enchiladas, tostadas, etc.
That got me to thinking: What if I made one of my Mexican dishes and set it up like a Pepe’s Tacos plate? That would be kind of cool, right?
Well, what I remembered halfway through making these delicious chicken quesadillas was that the cook at Pepe’s Tacos is prepping once for a couple of hundred plates per night, while I was doing the same prep work for only two plates.
Still, although it was kind of a lot of work, the end result was pretty great. The quesadillas were especially wonderful. My wife even said it was one of her favorite things I have ever made. Home run!
Next time, though, we’ll probably just go down the street to Pepe’s Tacos.
4 6″ whole wheat tortillas
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 8 oz
8 oz Chihuahua cheese, shredded
2 TBS Extra virgin olive oil, separated
1 ear corn, boiled and kernels removed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBS cumin
1/2 TBS chile powder
Fat-free sour cream
Baked tortilla chips
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Put cast iron pan on fire. When hot, add oil. When smoking, season both sides of chicken breast with salt and pepper and place in pan, being careful not to splash yourself with hot oil. Cook until one side is golden brown, about 3 minutes, then flip and sear the other side another 2 minutes. Put the entire pan in the oven and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. This can be done ahead of time.
2. Dice chicken into 1/2-inch peices. In a mixing bowl, combine chicken, black beans, corn, cumin and chile powder.
3. Preheat oven to 200F. Put cast iron pan on fire. When hot, add oil. When smoking, add one tortilla. Arrange 1/4 of the cheese onto the tortilla, then half the chicken/bean/corn mixture, then the 1/4 more of the cheese. Place a second tortilla on top and press down firmly with your hand. Cook until bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown. Remove from pan and place on sheet pan. Repeat the entire process so that you have two quesadillas. Place sheet pan with tortillas in oven to keep warm until you are ready for plate up.
4. To plate, place a little shredded lettuce in one corner of the plate, place about a half cup of refried beans at the opposite corner. Place some Spanish rice in between. Cut the quadillas into four peices. Arrange the quesadillas in a shingle pattern down the center of the plate and top it all off with a dollop of guacamole.
For quick Spanish rice, I just combined long grain white rice with 1/2 water, 1/2 spicy V-8 in my rice steamer. It turned out very well.
I usually serve this with salsa, tortilla chips and fat free sour cream on the side.
Have you ever tried to replicate some of your favorite restaurant dishes at home? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!