Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Italiexico Mash-Up Quesadilla

It all started when a really cute gardener gave me a thin-skinned and heavy, half pale yellow and half pale green, teeming-with-juice-waiting-to-be-released solitary lime. At first I was was going to take the easy way out and mix its juice into a Sunday morning guacamole for one. But then as it sat alone in the sun on my wooden kitchen counter, I realized I wanted to do something unique with it so I sliced off just the tip to adorn a small glass of iced Patron Anejo tequila, so I could ascertain the flavor of this particular little fruit. It was super tart and tangy so I knew it had to be used in a way to accentuate it's flavor.

 So while walking back from a volunteer meeting at the Venice Family Clinic today, I stumbled upon an unusual source of inspiration in at the Venice Ranch Market. A carniceria and market combined in one lured me in with the promise of some Mexican specialties and my first stop at the deli counter surprised me with the offerings of mild and hot Italian sausages. It is Venice Beach after all, the land of make up your own cultural identity with a little creative twist thrown in. I have been in love with hot Italian sausages, plump with sage and fennel, since I was a little girl and used to stand on a step ladder in my grandfather's kitchen for hours at a time while he would make his famous sausage chunk spaghetti sauce. My friend Kelly recently reacquainted me with this sausage at a girl's pasta night in her home and I had been looking for it on meat shelves ever since. So I bought a link and some authentic, fresh guacamole, some wheat tortillas, a skim milk queso round and cilantro and headed home.

So, musical mash ups seem to be super popular these days. Why not create a food mash up? Not a sophisticated fusion or hybrid "dish" but a down and dirty cross cultural, slang swapping, feed a family of five kind of standard fare. So, of course I immediately mentally conjured one of my all mighty favorites the quesadilla.

But with a loving and passionate twist perfect for the cultural bravo of both the Italian and Mexican communities. First, I squeezed the juice of half the line into the guacamole that I had purchased that was made of red bell pepper, avocado, and onion and the remaining half into a fresh pot set on steam temperature low on the stove. I put the raw sausage into the pan and covered it to simmer slowly for ten minutes in the citrus juice. Enough to make it almost burst but also to absorb the sprightly lime steam through its membrane.

 Then I cut up the sausage so I could see the momentum of its raw meat middle and sauteed the disks in the pan to make the edges carmelized with lime essence and finish the cooking.

 This was followed by a buttering of the pan and half a tortilla laid within its crusty, burnt bowels to be layered with two ounces of crudely crumbled queso. Atop of that went the slivers of sausage before being covered with the other tortilla half and fried to a darkened crisp.

The whole quesadilla was then put on a plate and smothered with the guacamole before halved. This was a heavenly mix. The crispness of the tortilla gave way to a nice layer of cheese, tasteless like tofu that acts more like a texture bed for the explosion of fennel sausage that comes next topped with the refreshing zest of guacamole aftermath. I must say, this particular in-breeding produced quite a success!

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