Monday, August 25, 2014

A Little Twisted: BBQ - Mac and Cheese Quesadilla

September 5 - 7 I will be cooking with Drapers BBQ at the Kentucky State BBQ Festival in Danville, KY.

We will be one of 7 teams cooking for a crowd of 50,000 people over the weekend.  It is going to be crazy busy but a lot of fun and I am looking forward to it.  Pitmasters for this year's event include -

Shane Draper
Mike Mills
Moe Cason
Carey Bringle
Craig Kimmel
Shelly Frisch
Brad and Cindy Simmons

Unlike BBQ contests where the focus is on the teams and judging, this festival is focused on the visitors' experience and the celebration of BBQ.  If you are anywhere near Danville that weekend, it will be worth the drive to come check it out.

One of the things I will be doing is helping cook our team's entry for the VIP party on Friday night.  Shane D, Alethea B, and I have been kicking around ideas for a BBQ Quesadilla.  This is a very good "test subject" from this weekend's experiments.  Creamy mac and cheese, bacon, roasted chiles, and delcious smoked pork in a crispy fried tortilla, yum!  I ruled it out only due to difficulty of preparation for 300 people on a remote site.  It kicks butt at home though.

You can do these all at one time if you have a flat top grill or one or two at a time in a griddle pan.

BBQ - Mac and Cheese Quesadillas
Makes:  8 servings (16 appetizer portions)

  • 8 burrito sized flour tortillas (regular burrito, not Mission style)
  • 1 cup chopped smoked pork
  • 1 fire roasted jalapeno, peeled, seeded, and diced (how to)
  • 1 teaspoon all purpose BBQ rub 
  • 4 slices cooked bacon
  • 4 cups macaroni and cheese
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • oil for frying
  1. Preheat a griddle over medium high heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the pork, jalapeno, and BBQ rub together to mix evenly.
  3. Assemble quesadillas:  Place two ice cream scoops or large spoonfuls of mac and cheese on one half of a tortilla.  Top with 1 ounce of the smoked pork mixture and spread evenly. Crumble a half slice of bacon over that. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the BBQ sauce.  Fold the empty half of the tortilla over the full side and gently press down.
  4. When the griddle is hot, coat the griddle surface with oil and wait a minute until the oil shimmers.  Place the quesadillas on the griddle and cook on both sides until golden brown, about 2-2 1/2 minutes per side.
  5. Place on a cutting board and use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to slice into 4 wedges.  Serve with condiments like Mexican crema, salsa, or more bbq sauce.
For the mac and cheese, we made our favorite baked version, Kelli's Creamy Mac and Cheese.  It was blazing hot outside so we did the baking portion on Alexis' kamado grill instead of firing up the oven.  I probably would not use a stove top mac and cheese for this recipe unless you make sure it isn't too runny.

grilled mac and cheese, kamado
A half order of the linked recipe is just the right amount for a half steam pan.
To set the kamado grill up for baking, I normally use a plate setter but today I am trying out The Raiser from Innovations by Chance. It is a multi-purpose rig that can be used for indirect heat, raised direct heat, and other configurations.  I'll be reviewing it in more detail in the next few weeks, but so far I'm impressed.

indirect heat, kamado grill baking
Indirect set up using the Raiser.  You could also use a plate setter or other heat deflector set up.

Closer view of the Raiser used in the shot above.

macaroni and cheese on kamado grill,
Ready to bake, cooking on the kamado not only keeps it cool inside but adds a subtle smokiness to it.

I don't care if Velveeta is reviled by a lot of foodies, it makes THE best mac and cheese.

Since we have to cook quesadillas for 300 people in a relatively short period, we are going to need a heavy duty flat top grill for the event so we got one at Lowes.  Yeah, like I needed another grill, but we really do for this event.

This is a real flat top grill and will enable us to cook 24 servings every 4-5 minutes.

Cooking bacon is a great way to season a flat top.

Two of the other test BBQuesadillas we tried out this weekend.  My favorite was a blend of pepper jack and colby jack cheeses, pulled pork, fire roasted jalapenos, bacon, BBQ rub, and BBQ sauce.

We ate so many varieties of quesadillas in testing that my 15 year old is tired of them for now.  That is saying a lot.

Mmmm gooey cheese!

BBQ Mac and Cheese Quesadillas
Quesadillas are great to make because they are quick, easy, and you can do just about any flavor combination.  What are your favorite quesadilla ingredients?