Photo by Jane Mason
Provenance of Dish
In the early 2000s I travelled to Mexico with a small company called To Grandmother’s House We Go, which emphasized learning traditional cooking methods from our elders. We would meet early, go to the markets, and spend the day preparing traditional meals. In Oaxaca I stumbled upon a woman in an open market making mushroom quesadillas. Don’t let the simplicity fool you…that is entirely the point.
You can find fresh epazote and prepared masa at Mexican grocery stores, or mix your own masa with Maseca, a treated cornmeal sold at most supermarkets. Cilantro can replace epazote in a pinch. If you don’t want to mess with masa, you can use fresh corn tortillas, but being able to adjust the tortilla thickness to your liking is worth the effort!
• Half a small white onion, diced small
• 6 ounces fresh wild mushrooms of your choice, loosely chopped
• Unflavored oil
• 1 lb prepared masa
• several stems fresh epazote, minced
• 1 package Oaxaca cheese, grated (can substitute mozzarella or Monterey Jack)
• Fresh salsa (optional)
1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté a minute, then add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and cook until the edges are browned, lowering the heat if needed. Keep warm.
2. Shape the masa into golf ball-sized balls, then place between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic (as from a plastic produce bag) and use a rolling pin to roll into tortillas. Don’t worry about making them perfectly round.
3. Heat a cast iron skillet with a just a touch of oil until the skillet is hot. Place a tortilla on the surface and cook for a minute, then flip it over and place grated cheese, mushrooms, and a sprinkle of epazote on one half. Fold it over and cook, flipping once, until the cheese is fully melted. You can cook as many as fit on the griddle at a time--I usually start the next one once the previous is filled and folded and off to the side. Serve as they come off the griddle topped with a bit more epazote and salsa, if desired.