Quesadillas Fritas de Queso y Rajas o Hongos

Mexico is a large and diverse country, as are most, and one way to appreciate the diversity of any State is through their cuisine. In Italy a certain dish from Venice may be a completely different experience in Florence using the same ingredients. 

Mexico and Mexican Food is no different. Different regions of Mexico, as well as Southern United States, have their take on the Mexican Colonial classic that is the Quesadilla. In central and southern regions of Mexico, a quesadilla is a flat circle of cooked corn masa, warmed to soften it enough to be folded in half, and then filled. 

In Mexico City, the quesadillas can be fried in oil to make quesadillas fritas. The main difference is while the traditional ones are prepared just filling the partially cooked tortillas, then continue cooking until the cheese melts, the fried ones are prepared like a pastry, preparing the uncooked masa in small circles, then topping with the filling and finally folding the quesadilla to form the pastry. It is then immersed into hot oil until the exterior looks golden and crispy.

Call them Quesadillas or Empanadas, either way they are delicious and Tresierras Supermarkets has all the supplies you need.
Recipe after the jump

Makes 12 turnovers


1 pound fresh-ground corn masa, 
OR 1 1/4 cups powdered masa harina mixed with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water

  • 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening

  • 1/4 cup flour (use 1/3 cup if working with powdered masa harina)
A generous 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 scant teaspoon baking powder

Cheese Filling (See Note)
10 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) grated melting cheese like Monterey or a mild cheddar

  • 1 large fresh poblano chile, roasted, peeled and cut into strips

Mushroom Filling (See Note)
12 ounces mushrooms rinsed or wiped clean
1 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil

  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 fresh Serrano chiles (or 1 jalapeno), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh epazote (optional)

Vegetable oil to a depth of 1-inch
Note: One recipe of either the cheese filling or the mushroom filling will be enough to fill all 12 turnovers. If you make both fillings, you'll need to double the dough recipe for 24 turnovers.

Quesadillas Fritas with Cheese and Chile or Mushrooms


1.   The Dough
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the masa (fresh or reconstituted) with the lard or shortening, flour, salt and baking powder. Work in a little water, if needed, to give the dough the consistency of soft cookie dough. Divide into 12 balls and cover with plastic wrap.

2.   The Fillings
If you are using the cheese, divide it into 12 portions and press each portion into a flat oval about 2 x 2 1/2 inches. Set them aside with the strips of chile.

 If you are working with mushroom, pulse them in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat the lard or oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring regularly until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the onion, chile and epazote, and cook, stirring frequently, several minutes more, until the onions are soft. Scrape into a bowl. Taste and (re)season to taste; about 1/2 teaspoon.

3.   Form the Molotes
Using a tortilla press, flatten a ball of the dough between sheets of plastic to make a medium-large (5-inch) thickish tortilla. Remove the top piece of plastic. Lay a portion of your chosen filling across half of the uncovered tortilla, making sure to leave a 1/2-inch border around the edge. If the filling is cheese, top with a strip of poblano. Slip a hand under the plastic beneath the uncovered side of the tortilla, then carefully fold the tortilla over the filling. Press the edges together to seal.

Peel the plastic off the turnover and lay on a tray covered with plastic wrap. Continue making the remaining masa balls into turnovers. Cover with plastic wrap.

4.   Fry the Turnovers
Heat the oil to 375 degrees, then fry the turnovers 2 or 3 at a time, until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven until all are ready. Serve right away.

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