Three Cheese Smoked Duck and Pepper Quesadilla

Fusion.  Here we go again.  If you may (or may not) recall, I posted a piece on fusion a while ago, displaying my general distaste for the entire concept.  And I stand by that.  It’s one of those culinary trends that has been taken too far, too over the top, has become too ‘trendy’ and ‘edgy’ and has therefore lost it’s appeal.  To me, at least.  But, as you may (or may not) recall, I also mentioned that in some circumstances, it can be wonderful.  Sometimes it makes sense.  French style fish in a sweet/spicy Thai sauce, would be a great example.  It sounds good on paper, conceptually makes sense, and if executed properly, is a winner.

My recipe of the day is, of course, a fusion recipe.  France meets Mexico.  Two great culinary regions united at last.  And let’s face it, a quesadilla is like the ultimate blank canvass for greatness.  Sandwich something between tortillas, add cheese and toast.  It’s hard to go wrong.  But smoked duck is unique unto itself.  Rich and lean at the same time, smokey, delicate, subtle yet extremely flavorful.  Brie cheese, goat cheese, fontina cheese… we’re on to something.  Add a little bit of roasted pasillo pepper, avocado and cilantro and viola!  France meets Mexico, and a great dish is created.

I love this dish.

I used to make this in restaurants, and people would go wild over it.  I would create apricot chutneys, red onion jams and things like that as condiments, but really, I think guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream are best.  It’s really a great dish, and I love making, selling and eating it.  The flavors explode off the plate, the smell is infectious (in a good way), it has great visual appeal, and it’s finger food!  Grab a piece and lay into it!  No forks necessary, which always makes it fun.

Three Cheese Smoked Duck and Pepper Quesadilla

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  45 minutes
Inactive cook time:  30 minutes
Yield:  3 large, or 6 small quesadillas


2 duck breasts, skin scored into x pattern
2 pasilla peppers
1 tbsp dark chili or ancho powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
kosher salt
black pepper
1 cedar plank for grilling
3 oz plain goat cheese
4 oz shredded fontina cheese
3 oz shredded or thin sliced brie
1/2 red onion, small dice
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 avocado, peeled and cut into thin sliced
6 ea 10inch flour tortillas
vegetable oil


Prepare a grill to medium high heat.  Rub the duck with the dry ingredients and salt lightly on all sides.  Place the cedar plank on the grill, place the duck breasts skin side down on the grill, and place the pasilla peppers on the grill.  When the duck begins to render its fat, immediately place them skin side up on the cedar plank. They contain a lot of fat, and if you leave them on the direct heat for too long, the fat will burn, causing the duck to burn.  Close the grill lid.  When the peppers are charred on all sides, remove from the grill, place in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit until slightly cool.  Cook the duck on the cedar plank until cooked through, remove and let cool to room temp.

Peel the peppers, discarding stems and seeds.  Remove the skin from the duck, discard, and very thinly slice the breast meat.

Begin assembling the quesadillas.  Have a large saute pan at medium heat.  Using a paper towel, rub a very small amount of vegetable oil in the pan.  Place 1 tortilla in the pan, and begin layering the filling.  Place 1 layer of shredded fontina, followed by the duck, followed by the other cheeses, topped with the avocado, a few leaves of cilantro and a sprinkle of red onion.  The goat and brie cheeses should not evenly layered; they should be randomly placed within the quesadilla.  Place another tortilla on top and gently press.  Cook until the bottom tortilla is golden brown, and carefully flip*.  Continue cooking until the other tortilla is browned, and the cheese is melted through.

Remove from pan, cut into 6 even pieces and serve right away.

I like to serve this with guacamole, pica de gallo, sour cream, hot sauce and additional cilantro.

*If you find the tortillas are too large and difficult to flip, begin with 1 tortilla in the pan, arrange your fillings only half way up, and fold the tortilla in half.  This will make it much more manageable.


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