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23 July 2006

Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas (Cooks Illustrated)

Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas

2/2005

Serve these with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, or hot sauce if desired.

Serves 8

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed

Table salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion , chopped fine

1 red bell pepper , stemmed, seeded, and chopped

4 cloves garlic , minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

8 (8-inch) flour tortillas

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Pat the chicken thoroughly dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Carefully lay the chicken in the pan and cook until lightly golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and refrigerate until cool enough to handle. Shred or slice the chilled chicken into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a large bowl.

2. While the chicken cools, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the shredded chicken. Add the cilantro and Tabasco and toss to combine.

3. Spread ¼ cup of the chicken filling over half of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle ¼ cup of cheese over the filling. Spray the plain half of the tortilla with vegetable oil spray and fold over the filling. Press the edges of the tortilla together gently to seal.

4. Arrange on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Spray lightly with vegetable oil spray and bake until the quesadillas are golden, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into 2 or 3 pieces each.

To Make Ahead

The chicken filling can be made through step 2 and refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.