Not so south of the border

I feel a little like I am jumping on the bandwagon by talking Mexican food given the number of posts that have recently landed in my inbox (hello How Sweet It Is, Miss Piggy and other bloggers who love their Mexican!) but… I’m going to anyway. I’m stubborn like that.

Growing up I was lucky enough to live not too far from what I think is a seriously good Mexican restaurant – Amigos. I’m not going to lie, I’ve even been homesick for their food on more than once occasion over the last six years. Having never been to Mexico, I know I can’t really judge the authenticity of their food but it is good, better than good even.

It wasn’t until I left that I realised just how lucky I had been. If someone had asked me what my biggest challenge would be moving away from my home town, I can assure you I wouldn’t have thought it was finding decent Mexican food but it kinda was! I ate at some seriously awful Mexican restaurants all in the hope of finding something decent…

Thankfully things have started to change over the last few years. Discovering Zambreros not long before I left Canberra helped ease the pain and I’m pleased to report the move to Sydney has not disappointed either. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I really like the food at El Loco@The Excelsior and the rise of the food trucks around the city (which Mexican options) are out of this world good. Finally someone got the memo – fresh, tasty, robust  Mexican flavours and plenty of them!

Which gets me to last night. Whilst I’m not sure any Mexicans will be rushing to call my interpretation of their incredible cuisine authentic, it was the end of a looong week and under the circumstances, the best I could do. I had zero cash on me and no inclination to:

A) locate an ATM

B) stand in the line waiting for take away with the rest of the Friday night crowd (let alone decide what I actually wanted) or

C) the mental capacity or fortitude required to pay proper homage to traditional Mexican food – this would have meant a trip to the supermarket and me having a nervous breakdown in aisle 3 whilst surrounded by tinned fruit and crying children. Like I said, it was a long week.

End result? Raiding of one’s pantry and fridge to pull together a random dish that turned out to be way more delicious than any of the local takeaway options. It was literally no hassle and promoted the consumption of tequila. Bliss.

Tequila Chicken Quesadillas (feeds two)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 50ml good quality tequila
  • Olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • About 400gm tinned corn kernels
  • 400gm tinned red kidney beans
  • 1/2 bunch each of mint and coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Sour cream or natural yoghurt
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Paprika, salt and pepper
  • 4 large tortillas
  • About 2 cups grated cheese (cheddar or whatever you’d prefer)
  • Chilli flakes
  1. Marinate the chicken breasts in the garlic, tequila, olive oil and the juice of half a lime for about 20 minutes. Cook at 200 degrees celsius for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly before shredding with a fork.
  2. To make the salsa, combine the capsicum, corn, onion, beans, mint, coriander, lime zest and lime juice (reserving a small amount for the guacamole) in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. To make the guacamole, mash the avocado with a fork and add a tablespoon of sour cream or yoghurt, a few drops of tabasco, paprika, salt and pepper to taste and lime juice. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Heat a large fry pan over medium to high heat. Add one of the tortillas and sprinkle with a small handful of the cheese, followed by the chicken, some chill flakes and another handful of cheese. Top with a tortilla, press down and wait for the cheese to melt and the bottom tortilla to become golden and crisp up. Flip to cook the other side.
  5. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients to make the second serving.
  6. Cut the quesadillas into quarters or eighths, squeeze over some extra lime juice and serve with the guacamole, salsa and a large margarita (so not optional).