Play Me a Recipe

Danny Trejo’s Pollo Frito Quesadilla

Episode Summary

According to Danny Trejo, this recipe for fried chicken "is delicious on its own"—but when it's paired with a spicy, creamy slaw and stuffed into a quesadilla, it's taken to a whole new level. On the latest episode of Food52's podcast, Play Me a Recipe, the actor and restaurateur explains how to make a quesadilla that tastes exactly like those served at Trejo's Tacos.

Episode Notes

On Play Me a Recipe, your favorite cooks will walk you through their most treasured recipes, offering all the insider tips, stories, and tricks you won't get from a written recipe—and you'll be right alongside them, every step of the way. 

Makes 2 quesadillas

Quesadilla with Cabbage Slaw

Danny Trejo's Fried Chicken (serves 4)

Quesadilla with Cabbage Slaw

  1. Make the crema: Put the sour cream, chipotles, adobo sauce, lime juice, and salt in a blender and puree until smooth. (If making in advance, keep the crema in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)
  2. Make the slaw: In a medium bowl, combine the cabbage and ¼ cup of the chipotle crema, mixing well.
  3. Heat a large pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place a tortilla in the pan and cook until it is lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Turn the tortilla over and spread 1 cup of the cheese evenly across the top, followed by ¾ cup of the fried chicken. Sprinkle half of the cabbage mixture over the chicken and top with half of the serranos, spreading evenly. Cook until the cheese begins to melt, about 3 minutes. Fold the tortilla in half and cook for 45 seconds, then turn the quesadilla over and cook for another 45 seconds. 
  4. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board and cut it into 4 wedges. Repeat with the remaining tortilla and fillings. Serve with the remaining chipotle crema on the side.

Danny Trejo's Fried Chicken (serves 4)

  1. Cut the chicken thighs into 1-inch-wide strips. Place the strips in a bowl and season them with 2 teaspoons of the salt. Set the chicken aside for 30 minutes at room temperature. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cayenne, remaining teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  2. Drain off any liquid in the bowl of chicken and pour the buttermilk over the chicken. Lift the chicken pieces out of the buttermilk, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and then dredge them through the spiced flour, shaking off any excess. 
  3. Slowly lower a few chicken pieces (you don’t want to overcrowd the pot) into the hot oil and cook, turning them often, until they are golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. To check if it’s done, remove a piece of chicken and test its internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer—it should read 165°F. Drain the fried chicken on a wire rack or paper towels, and repeat with the remaining pieces. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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