Tuesday, January 31, 2006

We’re not big wintertime grillers. My husband will crank up the gas grill when it snows for the occasional hamburger or steak, but ask him to stand out on the patio in the frigid weather and turn and baste and bother with grilled food, and he’s likely to pack up and head to Florida.

Sunny weather, barbecue grills blazing way, cool tropical drinks with paper umbrellas. Pretty tempting, I’ve got to admit.

Back to reality, it is winter and we’re craving a taste of summer.

So we pick up a pound of good barbecue from the local shop here in Nashville or a package of good-quality frozen barbecue from the supermarket case, and serve it in these fun quesadillas.

We whip up a topping of cilantro, lime juice and sour cream.

Whether made for your family or doubled and served for an entire crowd, these quesadillas are easy to do ahead and keep warm in a 300-degree oven.

Your mouth will insist it’s July, but step outside and you’ll know it’s not.

Five time-shaving ways to serve barbecue

Heat up frozen barbecue from your supermarket, and you can serve it quickly in a myriad ways:

• Spooned over toasted buns with slaw and pickle relish.

• Placed on top of black beans and yellow rice with a fruit salsa topping.

• With baked beans — a given.

• To the side of grits, seasoned with garlic and shredded cheddar cheese.

• Stuffed inside little corn muffins from the in-store deli.

Barbecue quesadillas with cilantro lime cream

The preparation time is 15 minutes, and the cooking time is 8 minutes.

1 16-ounce package coleslaw mix

cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sweet pickle juice

1/4 cup bottled Italian salad dressing

1 tablespoon sugar, or more to taste

1 cup sour cream

cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 18-ounce frozen or 16-ounce fresh package shredded pork or beef barbecue, or 2 cups shredded chicken mixed with cup store-bought barbecue sauce

1 8-ounce (2 cups) package pre-shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

16 flour tortillas (10 inches each)

Place coleslaw mix, mayonnaise, pickle juice, salad dressing and sugar to taste in a medium-size bowl and stir to combine. Taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if necessary. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place slaw in the refrigerator to chill. It will keep for up to 2 days.

Place sour cream, cilantro leaves and lime juice in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth, 30 seconds. Set the cilantro lime cream aside.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat a griddle or large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the griddle or skillet with the oil. Scatter 1/8 of the barbecue, 1/4 cup of the slaw and about 1/4 cup of the cheese evenly over each of 8 tortillas and top with the remaining tortillas.

Place 4 quesadillas on the griddle or cook them one at a time in the skillet. Cook on one side until crisp, 2 minutes. Carefully turn quesadillas over, cook on other side until cooked through and crisp, 2 minutes longer.

Place quesadillas on a baking sheet on center rack of preheated 300-degree oven to keep warm until serving.

Repeat cooking process until all quesadillas are cooked. Slice hot quesadillas into wedges and serve with cilantro lime cream drizzled over or on the side.

Makes 4 to 8 servings.


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