To anyone who’s familiar with the Philippine delicacy, Lucban longganisa is amazing. They’re mini link sausages that are salty with a nice kick of garlic, which I prefer by a wide margin to the Kapampangan version (which is basically meat candy). Plus this savory little treat is so versatile, you can eat it on its own, as an indulgent accompaniment to your choice alcoholic beverage (a.k.a. pulutan), with some rice and fried egg for a filling breakfast, or use it as an ingredient to improve or create a dish. It was my desire for the latter that got me to go one night where no man has bravely gone before (as far as I know): Lucban longganisa quesadillas.
A week ago, I asked a friend who was bound for Quezon Province to bring me back a few dozen of these porcine babies (they hail from a little town there called Lucban), and we’ve been having them for breakfast or lunch for a few days now. Then this past weekend, we held another taco night, much like the one I told you about where I experimented on garlic aioli. That got me thinking, how awesome would it be to put longganisa in between the tortillas to create a local version of a Mexican favorite?
I found out last night when, armed with taco night’s leftovers, I put my plan into action. Here are the ingredients I used (for four quesadillas):
8 tortilla wraps
1 dozen Lucban longganisa
120g sharp cheddar cheese, portioned four ways (30g each)
120g processed cheese, portioned four ways (30g each)
1 large tomato, chopped and portioned four ways
1 large red or white onion, chopped and portioned four ways
Something spicy, like chili oil or sriracha (optional)
Before anything else, you need to know how to cook the longganisa properly. You can’t just drop them into a pan of hot oil; there’s a trick to it:
1. Pierce the skin of the longganisa with a toothpick. About three to four small holes will do. This is to keep the skin from exploding when the oil of the meat starts heating up under the skin. Then use a pair of scissors to cut the string tying them together.
2. Put the longganisa in a pan and put some water in it, just enough so that it reaches halfway up the sausages.
3. Put the pan over medium heat to get the water simmering to boil the longganisa.
4. Don’t put oil in the pan. As the water evaporates, it’ll leave behind the longganisa‘s oil, which will then finish cooking the sausages.
5. I normally cook them until they’re a bit crisp on the outside, but I decided not to do that for this dish so they stay tender in between the tortillas.
6. Once they’re done cooking, take out the longganisa and lay them out on a paper napkin to soak up the excess oil.
7. When they’ve cooled off, take off the skin and the ends and chop them up. Portion them in such a way that each quesadilla gets 3 sausages.
Now that you’ve got that down, here’s how you prepare the quesadilla (I swear, it’s so easy, you can do it with your eyes closed):
1. Take a tortilla and cover the surface with 15g sharp cheddar and 15g processed cheese.
2. Sprinkle the three pieces of chopped-up longganisa over the cheese.
3. Dole out the quarter portion of chopped-up tomatoes and onions.
4. If you’re into spicy food, this is when you spike the quesadilla with your heat of choice.
5. Pile on the remaining 15g each of the two cheeses and cover with another tortilla. Press onto it gently just to get the thing to stick together.
6. Put a non-stick pan over low heat. Don’t put oil in here, either. Trust me, this treat has enough of that to go around.
7. When the pan’s just a bit hot, put the quesadilla in gently and cover the pan. This should help the cheese melt without charring the tortilla too much. Don’t leave it; you need to check it regularly so it doesn’t burn.
8. When the underside’s nice and toasted, turn the quesadilla over and cover the pan again. You should be done in a few seconds.
9. Once cooked, transfer the quesadilla onto a chopping board, quarter it, and serve it hot.
(I served the quesadilla with a side of some garlic aioli dip left over from taco night. You can find the recipe here.)
The only reason I used those kinds of cheeses is because they’re the only ones we had on hand. Feel free to experiment on whatever kind you want. Though I have to say, the ones I used were rather sufficiently tasty. Also, you can edit the amount of tomatoes and onions if you want more or less of them.
Now, this is a pretty high-calorie and high-cholesterol dish, so I won’t advocate that you make it every night. But for times when you feel like you deserve a treat that tastes so good you can ignore the guilt that’s coming later, fuck it; this is the dish for you.
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