We love a simple cheese quesadilla, but add a filling of succulent shrimp spiked with tequila and lime zest and you turn Mexico’s griddled cheese sandwich into a party.
To make them substantial enough for a meal, we started with 10-inch flour tortillas. To make four at once, we turned to the oven. By placing the quesadillas on an oiled baking sheet and then brushing their tops with oil, we were able to brown and crisp them on both sides without having to cook each individually.
To keep the quesadillas from getting soggy while ensuring juicy shrimp, we par-cooked the shrimp slightly on the stovetop with aromatics and tequila; this gave them a head start while evaporating most of the liquid. It was essential to cut the shrimp in half so that they released most of their moisture into the pan.
Cilantro, scallion greens, and lime zest provided welcome freshness, and Monterey Jack cheese offered melty richness.
TEQUILA-LIME SHRIMP QUESADILLAS
Start to finish: 1 hour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (3 cups)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thin
1 1/2 pounds medium-large shrimp (31 to 40 per pound), peeled, deveined, tails removed, and halved lengthwise
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/3 cup tequila
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
4 (10 inch) flour tortillas
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 F. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush with 1 tablespoon oil. Toss Monterey Jack with cilantro and scallion greens.
Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add scallion whites, garlic, chipotle, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add tequila and simmer until tequila has evaporated and pan is dry, about 5 minutes.
Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, until cooked through and opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl, stir in zest, and let cool for 5 minutes; drain well.
Lay tortillas on counter. Sprinkle half of cheese mixture over half of each tortilla, leaving 1/2 inch border around edge. Arrange shrimp on top in single layer, then sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture. Fold other half of each tortilla over top and press firmly to compact.
Arrange quesadillas in single layer on prepared sheet with rounded edges facing centre of sheet. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until quesadillas begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Flip quesadillas over and press gently with spatula to compact. Continue to bake until crisp and golden brown on second side, about 5 minutes. Let quesadillas cool on wire rack for 5 minutes, then slice each into 4 wedges and serve.