If you’re on TikTok, you probably saw the viral folded quesadilla that took the shanty-loving platform by storm this month. In short, you make a cut in your tortilla so that you can fold it by quarters, creating a stacked quesadilla with each layer adding a new element.
Did the simplicity of the regular fold-over-once quesadilla need an upgrade? Nope. But did this new look pop on camera? Yup. Did a whole f*ckton of content get created around the manuever? You’d better believe it.
So, here we are giving this new fangled quesadilla a shot. But what’s the point in a tweak if the final product is just a run of the mill quesadilla? After some thought and Slack chats, we landed on combining this technique with the internet’s other great food obsession: The spicy fried chicken sandwich.
Below is our recipe for a spicy fried chicken sandwich in quesadilla form. I learned a lot from making this dish, but the most important lesson was that more quesadillas should have spicy fried chicken in them. It’s a no-brainer once you think about it.
Spicy Fried Chicken Quesadilla
Before we get into everything, there’s a lot to this seemingly simple recipe. Really the longest list of ingredients comes down to the brine and dredge. In reality, you can adjust this to whatever suits your palate and pantry. This is just an example, not gospel.
With that said, do try this brine. It’s really f*cking good.
- 1 boneless/skinless chicken thigh
- 12-inch flour tortilla
- 1/4 cup shredded yellow cheddar
- 1/4 cup shredded Monterey jack
- 1 tsp. chili flakes
- Neutral oil
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 boiling water
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. white sugar
- 1 dash white pepper
- 3 dried Thai chilis
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 1 tbsp. MSG
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. white pepper
Ghost Pepper Sauce:
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. ghost pepper sauce
- 4 dashes Worchestershire sauce
- Juice from half a lime
What You’ll Need:
- Cast iron, Dutch oven, or wok (for frying)
- Large pan
- Small pot
- Box grater
- Cutting board
- Tupperware (for brine and dredging)
- Plastic wrap
- Cooling rack (or paper towels)
The first step is getting the chicken thigh ready. Mine is already deboned and skinned. But, these thighs tend to plump up quite a bit then they’re fried. So, I’m using my heavy pan and some plastic wrap to flatten this one out a bit.
I hit the thigh maybe four or five times just to flatten it out. It’s a little like making a cutlet.
I then ready my brine. I add the apple cider vinegar, boiling water, dried chilies, pepper, salt, and sugar to a small pot. I stir until the sugar and salt have fully dissolved and then add in a couple of ice cubes to cool it off.
I pour the brine over the chicken thigh, put a lid on it, and place it in the fridge for a minimum of two hours. Overnight is preferred but I didn’t think that far ahead. Remember to toast the chilies in a pan to let their spice bloom.
In the meantime, I get the oil heating on the stove. I’m using a cast iron skillet because it’s really easy to shallow fry something in it while holding heat well.
I use a large Tupperware for dredging and simply put all those ingredients in there and blend them with a fork. It’s ready.
I grab the thigh from the fridge and get ready to dredge it. I drop the thigh straight from the brine into the flour mix. I scoop a bit of brine onto the chicken thigh to help the flour mix really bind to the meat.
By this time, the oil in the cast iron is up to 350f. We’re ready to fry.
I gently lay the thigh down away from me in the hot oil. I let it sit there for a good two minutes before I flip it over. I then let it fry for another two minutes until both sides are golden brown.
I flip the thigh one last time and let it fry for one more minute. I take it out of the oil with the tongs and place it on a drying rack. I use a thermometer to check the internal temp has hit 150F.
It has. We’re good to go.
While the thigh was frying, I made a quick chili mayo and shredded the cheese.
For the chili mayo, I simply add the mayo to a small bowl with the chili sauce, lime, and Worcestershire. I stir with a spoon until fully emulsified.
Readying the cheese is easy. I grate both kinds of cheese into a bowl. I mix in the chili flakes by tossing the cheese a few times. Done.
I get my tortilla ready by making a slit, allowing for the viral “quarter fold.” I smear the chili mayo on the first quarter of the tortilla, place the chicken thigh on the second, the pickles on the third, and the cheese on the last.
I fold the sauce quarter over the chicken thigh, the thigh over the pickles, and rest it all on the cheese.
NOTE: You want your cheese in one of the spots that will be exposed to heat (either the one slot or the four slot), not a middle section.
I get a large pan on a medium flame with a thin layer of oil in the bottom. As soon as it’s hot, I use a spatula to gently place the quesadilla in the pan cheese-side on the bottom, making sure not to let any cheese spill out.
After about two or so minutes, the flour tortilla is crisping up nicely and I use the spatula to flip the whole thing over. Another two or so minutes later, and the quesadilla is nicely seared, the cheese is melty, and it’s ready to go.
I use the spatula to lift out the quesadilla and let it rest for a minute or so before cutting into it for a look at that cross-section.
First and foremost, this held together remarkably well. The flour tortilla really is quite the culinary miracle. I was expecting spillage from the open edges, but everything held in place wonderfully.
And goddamnit! This was freaking delicious. The chicken thigh was well-seasoned and had a deep heat to it, with a still crunchy breading. The ghost pepper mayo brought some serious extra heat with a dose of lime for balance. The pickle was was still crunchy and briny, making for another good counterpoint. And yes, the cheese was melty and added just enough extra heat to really tie the whole dish together.
While I rolled my eyes pretty hard when I first saw this so-called “hack” for a quesadilla, it legitimately works pretty well. I’m definitely making spicy fried chicken quesadillas again. And, if I’m being honest, I’ll probably only make them this way from now on. You win, internet.