The Denver Quesadilla
I wonder how many of my readers can remember the Western Denver Sandwich?
At one time, back in the 70’s, they would tend to appear at any restaurant with a Club Sandwich on the menu and I daresay I must have made hundreds of them during my various stints as a short-order cook. Sometimes it was just called a ‘Western Sandwich’, sometimes a ‘Denver Sandwich’, but whatever the moniker, it was pretty much a small omelet containing ham, green pepper and onion, sandwiched between slices of buttered toast (usually with a little Mayo). It was a simple affair (ordered almost always by women, as I recall), but it seems to have gone out of fashion these days and you rarely even hear of them anymore. Tastes change, of course, and fads come and go, but I was thinking that maybe the general idea could make could make a bit of a comeback if it was just jazzed up a little… Maybe with a little American-Mexican fusion?
By the way, I expect that the Quesadilla probably needs no introduction. The Tex-Mex snack of cheese (and sometimes other ingredients) griddle-cooked between Tortillas is pretty much known to most people these days and, as with the Mexican specialty, you could further jazz up my creation with other things (chilies, or tomatoes, for example). For today, I kept things homey and simple and just enhanced the basic Denver by replacing the toast, and adding a nice blend of shredded cheese.
A good sized omelet involves beating 1 large, or two small eggs along with 2 -3 tablespoons each of dice ham, onion, and green pepper, and a pinch of pepper and salt (maybe use garlic salt, if you like).
Cook the omelet mixture over a low medium heat, flipping once. A few toasty brown spots here and there will add to the flavor. If you are lucky enough to have a pan whose bottom diameter (like mine), is the same diameter as your tortilla, it helps to form a perfect omelet that won’t require trimming (which is something you always have to do when making a tradition Western Denver on toast).
The rest of the process is pretty much the same as for making any regular quesadilla… Put one tortilla into the pan and top with cheese. Place the omelet on top, add some more cheese, and then top with the remaining tortilla. Let cook until the bottom layer of cheese has melted and carefully flip the entire assembly to melt the second cheese layer as well. By now, the tortillas should be starting to get a bit crispy and nicely browned here and there on the surface. Slice into two or four pieces and serve hot.