Baked Quesadilla with Chile-Rhubarb Braised Bison (or Beef)
It may seem out of place to follow my last post about fresh summer pastas with a post about braised meat, and perhaps that seems like too much of a winter dish to you, or like your kitchen will get too hot braising meat for hours. Well, that may all be true, but a while ago I found myself staring down some large bison chuck roasts on a coolish summer day in Denver, wondering how I was going to eat them all by myself in an effort to clean out the meat freezer before moving. And I decided to braise the meat and just re-freeze it in single serving portions that I could eat as I needed to.The idea for the quesadilla actually came after the fact. The first thing I did was figure out what I had on hand to braise it, and ended up throwing a bunch of stuff into a pot that I found in my pantry and refrigerator – red wine, dried chiles, red enchilada sauce, diced celery, diced rhubarb, and some stock – and just hoping it would work. It did, and the meat was flavorful and tender and falling from the bone just like it should.After loading up a small whole wheat tortilla with some of the shredded meat, I drizzled it with some of the braising liquid that I had strained, defatted, and reduced, then topped it with some queso fresco that was hanging out in my fridge and a bit of cilantro.There was also a small container of leftover guacamole in the freezer that, along with a few cherry tomatoes right off the vine on the patio, finished the dish off perfectly. So perfectly I had the very same thing the next day for lunch! Toss the cooled shredded meat with some of the braising liquid and then divide it up into 4 ounce portions in small bags to freeze. Whether you’re feeding one or 8, it’s always nice to have the option of grabbing enough for just one person and not wasting food.
- 3 cups red wine
- 3 cups beef or chicken stock
- 1 14-ounce can red enchilada sauce
- 2 cups diced celery
- 2 cups diced rhubarb
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 3-4 dried chiles, crumbled
- 4-5 pounds bone in bison or beef chuck roast, cut into a few large chunks, large fat removed
- Small flour tortillas (2 per person)
- Queso fresco or cheddar cheese (2 ounces per person)
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Guacamole and tomatoes, for garnish
- Combine the wine, stock, enchilada sauce, celery, rhubarb, salt, pepper and chiles in a large Dutch oven and stir together until mixed. Add the pieces of meat and cover. Braise at 300 degrees until the meat is tender and falling from the bone, about 4-5 hours.
- Remove meat from the braising liquid and set aside on a cutting board to cool until you can handle it. In the meantime, strain out the solids from the braising liquid and discard them. Heat the braising liquid in a saucepan over a medium high flame and reduce by one third.
- When the meat is cool, shred it, discarding any fat, gristle, or bones. Toss the shredded meat with desired amount of the reduced braising liquid and if desired, portion into individual servings to freeze.
- To make quesadillas, lay one tortilla on a baking sheet and top with 4 ounces of shredded meat, 2 ounces of cheese, and some cilantro. Lay the other tortilla on top and press together slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and then slice and serve with guacamole and tomatoes for garnish.