March has been a month of firsts and finallys. First time on my bike in months (ouch)…first time in shorts this year (yikes!)…finally ate at Morimoto (hmmm)…finally inside Rotisserie (just to check it out)…finally looked at Fish Story (ditto Rotisserie)…and finally made it to World of Pinot Noir, or wopn (whop-en) as everyone calls it.
Wopn was everything I’d heard: an amazing line-up of Pinot Noir from the best producers in the U.S. and a handful of others from France, New Zealand and Italy—yes Italy—tasted in tents dramatically perched on bluffs above the Pacific and a crowd filled with the stars of the wine world. Literally awesome.
And yet, what did I come home thinking about? A quesadilla. Quesadillas were one of the snacks served at the grand tastings. Every time I passed the table, I’d look at the platter of quesadillas and think, “gutsy.” Who pairs one of the most nuanced wines with quesadillas?
Jeff Olsson of New West does. And he does so brilliantly. I know this because I ate one. Big mistake because then I ate about 999 more of the perfectly grilled wedges filled with melted cheese, roasted meat and smoky chiles.
Since, wopn I couldn’t stop thinking about those quesadillas so finally I took the plunge and cooked up a batch last weekend. I wanted to make one that could be a meal with the addition of a simple salad. I decided to substitute mushrooms for the meat and to make a second, kid-friendly version.
I had Jack make the quesadillas once I wrote up the recipe to gauge how long it would take someone else to make it. I was hoping everything would come together in less than 30 minutes, but it took more like 45. That could be reduced if two skillets are used instead of one. Either way, the quesadillas are worth it. The grown-up version offers smoky, earthy flavors that taste fantastic with Pinot.
Makes 2 adult and 2 kid quesadillas
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
4-ounce can roasted chiles, diced
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
6 ounces Jack cheese
4 large flour tortillas
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Return the skillet (or use a second skillet) to the stove and add the remaining butter. Melt over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and stir. Add the mushrooms and increase the heat to high. Cook until the mushrooms are wilted and begin to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Transfer to a second bowl to cool.
While the corn and mushrooms are cooling, grate the cheese. Divide the cheese among the corn and mushroom bowls. Stir the chiles and barbecue sauce into the mushroom bowl.
Put a tortilla on a flat surface. Put half of the corn mixture in the center and spread into a rectangle in the center. Fold the edges on two sides over about 2 inches. Fold the top over the ends and then fold the bottom over to create a rectangle package. Repeat with the remaining corn mixture and the mushroom mixture.
Return the skillet to the stove (if there’s any liquid from the mushrooms pout it out first) and heat over medium heat. Brush the bottom of the skillet with canola oil. Add the corn quesadillas to the skillet with the folded side down. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook the other side until brown, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Brush the skillet with canola oil and heat over medium heat Add the mushroom quesadillas to the skillet with the folded side down. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook the other side until brown, about 5 minutes.
What to drink: To pick one wine from wopn is a nearly impossible feat, so I’ll recommend an old favorite that’s reasonably priced for Pinot Noir, Estancia ($15). It’s a friendly Pinot with lots of fruity flavors and just a hint of smokiness to foil the roasted chiles.