This recipe has long been one of my white whales of cooking. Originally, I had tried to use regular tortillas that I then dunked into a Doritos-inspired spice mix post pan-frying, similar to how to make homemade Doritos at home.
That was an epic failure, and I confess that ended up sitting on the floor in the kitchen in tears amidst a cloud of smoked paprika and chili powder dust.
It took several more attempts and self-motivating speeches to my reflection to get it right, but I think I finally have the winning combination. It is spicy with that lingering smoky flavor that lasts on the tongue. Plus, cheese! So much melted cheese to add the perfect final touch.
Servings: 4 people (around six 8-inch tortillas)
Time: 45 minutes
2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup hot water
2.5 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp chili powder
1.5 tbsp onion powder
.5 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
12 oz bag shredded cheese, preferably a Mexican or 4-variety blend
Directions (for the tortillas):
In a large bowl, combine the flour, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, and salt. Mix together well.
Add the water and vegetable oil and using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix together the dough until it is a cohesive ball. The dough should not be sticky, but more like a play-dough texture. If the dough is sticky, add one teaspoon of flour at a time until you get the right result.
Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it about 10 times until it becomes smooth and slightly shiny.
Let the dough rest for around 25 - 30 minutes.
Once the dough is done resting, divide it into 6 portions and shape them into balls.
Place the ball between two sheets of parchment paper and flatten with a tortilla press. If, like me, you don't have one, simply press down with a heavy pan. Then, continue to roll it out into a thin circle with a rolling pin.
Heat up a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Place the tortilla onto the skillet and cook for around a minute on each side.
You can then save the tortillas for another day by letting them cool and placing them into a large ziploc bag, or you can immediately get to making your quesadillas.
Directions (for the quesadillas):
Sprinkle a thick layer of cheese onto half of the tortilla; then fold it.
Add .5 tbsp butter to the pan, which should still be on medium-high heat; let it melt.
Add the folded quesadillas to the pan. I generally do two folded halves per pan.
Cook until a nice crust forms on the bottom, which is usually 4-5 minutes.
When that happens, flip with a spatula to cook on the other side.
Repeat until all quesadillas are properly cooked, adding a fresh pat of butter each time.
Garnish with sides like salsa, avocado, sour cream, and/or cilantro.