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Quesadillas de Huitlacoche: A Unique Mexican Delicacy

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Quesadillas de Huitlacoche, or huitlacoche quesadillas, are a beloved Mexican dish that features a special ingredient known as huitlacoche, sometimes referred to as “Mexican truffle” or “corn smut.” This ingredient is a fungus that grows on corn, transforming the kernels into a rich, earthy delicacy with a flavor profile that resembles a blend of mushrooms and truffles. Huitlacoche has been enjoyed in Mexican cuisine for centuries and is celebrated for its unique taste and nutritional benefits.

The Origins and Significance of Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche, also known by its scientific name Ustilago maydis, has a long history in Mexican culture. The Aztecs and other indigenous peoples prized this ingredient, incorporating it into their diets and even considering it a delicacy. Despite its unappealing appearance, huitlacoche’s distinctive flavor has made it a sought-after ingredient in traditional Mexican cooking. Its popularity has persisted, and today it is used in a variety of dishes, including tamales, soups, and, of course, quesadillas.

Ingredients

To make Quesadillas de Huitlacoche, you will need the following ingredients:

For the Quesadillas:

  • Corn Tortillas: 12 small or medium corn tortillas
  • Huitlacoche: 1 cup fresh or canned huitlacoche
  • Onion: 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
  • Poblano Pepper: 1, roasted, peeled, and chopped
  • Epazote: 2 tablespoons fresh epazote, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried epazote)
  • Butter: 2 tablespoons
  • Salt: To taste
  • Black Pepper: To taste
  • Queso Oaxaca or Mozzarella: 2 cups, shredded
  • Vegetable Oil: For cooking

For Serving:

  • Salsa: Your favorite salsa (such as salsa verde or roja)
  • Sour Cream: For garnish
  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Huitlacoche Filling

  1. Sauté the Onions and Garlic: In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauté until they are translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the Huitlacoche: If using fresh huitlacoche, chop it into small pieces. If using canned huitlacoche, drain and rinse it. Add the huitlacoche to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Incorporate Poblano Pepper and Epazote: Add the roasted, peeled, and chopped poblano pepper to the skillet, along with the chopped epazote. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 2: Assemble the Quesadillas

  1. Prepare the Tortillas: Lay out the corn tortillas on a clean surface. Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded queso Oaxaca or mozzarella on one half of each tortilla.
  2. Add the Huitlacoche Filling: Spoon the huitlacoche mixture over the cheese, spreading it evenly. Fold the tortillas in half to form quesadillas.
  3. Cook the Quesadillas: In a large skillet or griddle, heat a small amount of vegetable oil over medium heat. Place the folded quesadillas in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the tortillas are golden brown and crispy, and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Step 3: Serve

  1. Plate the Quesadillas: Transfer the cooked quesadillas to a serving platter.
  2. Garnish and Serve: Serve the quesadillas with your favorite salsa, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Enjoy them while they’re hot and melty!

Serving Suggestions

Quesadillas de Huitlacoche are versatile and can be enjoyed on their own as a snack or appetizer, or as part of a larger meal. Here are a few ideas for accompaniments:

  • Refried Beans: Serve with a side of refried beans for a more filling meal.
  • Mexican Rice: Pair the quesadillas with Mexican rice for a complete and satisfying dish.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Add a side of grilled vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers, and corn, for a healthy and colorful plate.

Tips for Perfect Quesadillas de Huitlacoche

  • Fresh Huitlacoche: If you can find fresh huitlacoche, it will provide the best flavor. However, canned huitlacoche is more readily available and still delicious.
  • Cheese Choice: Queso Oaxaca is the traditional cheese for quesadillas, but mozzarella is a good substitute if you can’t find it. Both melt beautifully and complement the earthy flavor of huitlacoche.
  • Epazote: This herb adds a distinctive flavor to the dish. If you can’t find fresh epazote, dried epazote is a suitable alternative. In a pinch, you can omit it, but the flavor won’t be as authentic.

Health Benefits

Huitlacoche is not only a culinary delicacy but also a nutritious ingredient. It is rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including niacin, phosphorus, and magnesium. Incorporating huitlacoche into your diet can contribute to a balanced and healthy diet.

Conclusion

Quesadillas de Huitlacoche are a unique and flavorful Mexican dish that showcases the culinary creativity and rich heritage of Mexico. The earthy, mushroom-like taste of huitlacoche, combined with the gooey melted cheese and crisp corn tortillas, creates a memorable and delicious experience. Whether you’re a fan of traditional Mexican cuisine or looking to try something new, Quesadillas de Huitlacoche are sure to impress and delight your taste buds. Enjoy this special dish as a snack, appetizer, or main course, and savor the unique flavors of huitlacoche.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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