Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Reaching For The Record Books: Chicken Quesadillas On The Grill

Greeted by a wall of freshly drifted snow against the patio door, I carefully slid it open and got to work. You know you have a lot of snow whenIMG_04341 the first couple of shovel loads can be done whilst still standing inside the house, but that is how it has been this winter. It has been common place indeed. In point of fact, Minnesota is currently courting a hallowed slot in the top ten, coldest, most snowiest winters on record.  Least wise in our state this is so. Over 40 days now, below the zero mark. 60 plus days if you live up north.  It has been a deep, penetrating sort of cold that which has never ceased. Squirrels have fallen from trees and young boys have fused their tongues to subzero steel. And if you have invested in snow blowers this year, you are a wise soul. Seems  like every day you hear their guttural rumble somewhere, echoing through the neighborhood.  Reaching for records indeed. And I guess I believe it, as I finally shoveled enough snow out-of-the-way to shut the door behind me. Brilliant sunbeams sparkled over mounds of white, drawing mine eyes unto thin, uncanny slits. The air is fresh and cold, the way it always is the day after a good blizzard. And the snow it stands ever deep, and even deeper still where it has drifted between the old spruce trees just off the patio. I like how their stately boughs humbly bend in submission, selflessly playing the hand it was dealt, yet somehow attain even more beauty because of it. Nice trick. I do fancy those trees. They are the faithful ambiance patron to the pond-side pit, and have seen many winters. Many blizzards. Many BBQ’s. Such is the case today, under clear, and what seems eternally cold skies. And after I finish digging out here, and take a nap perhaps,  I’ll cook up some supper and tell you about it.


On the pit tonight, something a little different. A little southwestern fare to warm a winter-locked, Minnesotan’s soul. Chicken quesadillas on the grill. If you can make a grilled cheese sandwich, you can make one of these. And doing them on the grill will at once transport this classic appetizer to a whole new realm seldom found in your local restaurant, courtesy of rising wood smoke. The first order of business is grill up some chicken. Any cut will do. We seasoned ours in some spicy Cajun seasoning to introduce a degree of heat to the flavor profile, and placed them on the pit over medium indirect heat. The cold poultry immediately sizzled upon contact with the hot iron grate. A lovely sound on a hushed winter’s eve. I rummaged around in the resident wood pile and plucked out a tennis ball sized chunk of hickory wood, and added it to the coals. Flipped the meat over and plopped on the old, black, enameled lid. Hickory smoke soon was in draft, and wafting serenely out of the pit damper. A smile on my face, I slipped my hands into the warm pockets of my smoking jacket and considered the evening before me. That brilliant sun of earlier has long since slipped down into the west, and the tweety birds have all went to roost, snug together in feathery balls. And the heavenly stage hands have pulled clear the cosmic curtain for what soft star light falls on fields of snow.  And a toe nail moon dallies over bending spruce. What a privilege it is, even this side of the zero mark,  to smell the wood smoke rising on a wintry eve such as this.

IMG_61711When the chicken is done to your satisfaction, bring it inside to chop it up. Get yourself two flour tortillas and butter one side of each, and assemble your quesadilla like you would a grilled cheese sandwich. Sprinkle a manly amount of shredded cheese on it, along with the smoked, chopped chicken. And then maybe add some more cheese!  Lots of folks at this point, will toss all matter of things into their quesadillas. Things like: onions, peppers, mushrooms, chives, tomatoes, bacon, and so forth. And it’s all good. Make it however you like. But if all you have is cheese and chicken, like we did, that is perfectly acceptable too, to a hungry belly. Once assembled, bring your creation back out to the pit. You have a nice bed of coals going there after all, so why not do it right!


Place your quesadilla opposite the hot coals. Yes, our old kettle grill is half-entombed in a snow bank. You can’t even see its legs anymore. Its top poking out of the snow like an black flower in a sea of white. Didn’t I mention we’ve had a real winter up here! Anyways, put the lid on and let it bake spell. After a few minutes, you will want to turn the quesadilla 180 degrees for even cooking. Whence it has toasted up some, and the tortilla on the bottom has become crispy, affectionately flip thy spoils over, like a first pancake, and cook the other side in equal fashion. Here is a cook where we cannot assume our standard posture of BBQ,  belly up in the easy chair, for we must keep an eye on our intended plunder, lest the burning fates fall upon these tender tortillas with scant remorse. Indeed, we must stand abreast the pit like men were born to do, on guard and with lovely beverage in hand. For this is our moment, our gastronomic beach-head for to establish culinary harmony between pit and home. Be ever mindful then, and parlay your spoils with great effectiveness to the dinner table. A dollop of sour cream or salsa, and your tummy you will find, just took a trip a south, past old and leaky borders, to where the sun stills holds stalwart, hemorrhaging over fields of green. Amen. 


Hickory Smoked Chicken Quesadillas hot off the grill. Crispy, gooey,cheesy,  smokey goodness patron to the pit. Man! You don’t have to endure an epic winter to appreciate this sort of thing, but it helps!

33 responses

  1. First off – down here in Texas we just had our 9th coldest Dec/Jan on record. I’m not a happy camper!
    Secondly – shut the front door! You made a quesadilla on the grill! That’s just awesome! I never would have considered it – but I can promise you that I’m doing these, like now! And if it works, I’m taking the idea camping in a few weeks to share with the world! (Or the 8 other people that will be on my site… )

    February 27, 2014 at 11:15 am

    • Haha, wow. You’re a hoot! Yes, quesadillas work amazing on the grill. Almost like it was made for it. I bet it would work awesomely camping.

      February 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm

  2. Dang… this blog always makes me hungry. lol Never thought of quesadillas on the grill before but wow those look good. yummm

    February 27, 2014 at 11:24 am

  3. It is Rodeo Time and Houston, a three week celebration of cowboy traditions. The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is the worlds biggest rodeo. It starts off tonight, tomorrow and Saturday with a cookoff which is 500 parties raging in the Reliant Stadium parking lot. They range from totally beyond belief with parties sponsored by the likes of Continental/United Airlines, Exxon Mobile and such all the way down to folks like Patrons of the Pit who have had rights to space for fifty years. On Saturday, there will be 100K people on the grounds during the day and night. Talk about SMOKE…and BBQ and beer and booze and music and FUN. You are going to have to put it on your bucket list. Read your quesadillas post, nice. I am sure there will be folks grilling ’em up here this weekend along with brisket, ribs, chicken and anything that tastes like chicken (pretty all encompassing). Couldn’t help but think of you! Stay warm and dry.

    February 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

    • Wow, that sounds like a real hootenanny! I had no idea. Indeed, I must make my way to Texas some day and experience this! Thanks kindly, Joel. As always, a pleasure sir!

      February 27, 2014 at 1:58 pm

  4. I’ve made pizzas on the grill, never quesadillas. Great idea!

    February 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

    • I must admit, it really worked slick. Grills and quesadillas may be made for each other.

      Thanks for checking in. Good to hear from you!

      February 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm

  5. Debbie Spivey

    Oh NO you didn’t!?!?!?… You and that fancy grate again… Looks and sounds amazing!!

    February 27, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    • Oh yes I DID! And it done did good too!

      When in doubt, add more cheese!

      February 27, 2014 at 2:03 pm

  6. I agree. Why wait on Cinco de Mayo to eat Mexican food? Good grill work.
    Ironically, I made quesadillas in the comfort of my home last night. I didn’t have the “cojones” to grill them in the cold. Vaya con Dios!

    February 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    • Nice! But don’t you hail from balmy Florida or something? I didn’t think cojones were required anatomy down there. But then it has been a fiendish winter. So who knows.

      February 27, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      • Raised in Florida, the blood is quite thin. Living in Central Alabama is akin to living in Alaska now. 🙂

        February 28, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      • Yeah you guys have had some snow this year. What a weird winter. I love it!

        February 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm

  7. I have a crush on your writing style. I love when recipes sound like stories! And I’d never thought of making a quesadilla on the grill, but you can bet I will now.

    February 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    • Nice, that’s what we like to hear!

      Thanks for the compliment!

      February 27, 2014 at 3:22 pm

  8. I once tried cooking chili on the BBQ, but the beans kept falling through the grates…I know that was sooooo bad!

    February 27, 2014 at 5:42 pm

  9. Liz

    oh how brilliant you are to grill quesadillas! You may be the only patrons grilling in Minnesota this winter, but I for one am glad you are at your posts. Makes me feel better about humanity, to know there are those who don’t back down.

    I’ve handled it a bit differently, though would like to think still deliciously. Made the perfect cake to follow your grilled fare 🙂

    Here’s to warmer weather eventually. This is ridiculous.

    February 27, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    • Thank you kindly, Liz. That cake looks outstanding! Wow. If anything we Minnesotans know how to eat our way through a long winter. Mercy!

      To warmer days.

      February 27, 2014 at 9:58 pm

  10. laurie27wsmith

    They look great, Lads. Once again you’ve excelled in the culinary arts. I had a terrible thought though, how bad would it be if the snow just didn’t go away? It doesn’t bear thinking about. I hope the weather gods smile and get spring happening for you.

    February 27, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    • I was thinking about that the other day, what if the snow never went away. At first I was OK with that. Then I thought about it for a while, and suddenly I wasn’t so OK with it. I miss fishing!

      Thanks much, Laurie. Take care!

      March 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm

  11. Sounds damn fine my friend!

    February 27, 2014 at 10:26 pm

  12. And the comment about the children getting their tongues stuck to freezing steel reminded me of my brother trying that in our freezer when he was younger. We had to get hot water to unstick him… Which actually becomes quite difficult when you are pissing your pants laughing!!

    February 27, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    • That’s funny. I don’t know what it is about subzero metal and the inherent need to lick it, but it happens. Good times.

      February 27, 2014 at 10:40 pm

  13. edenmarket

    Reblogged this on Eden Market Personal Chef Co. and commented:
    anything cooked on a grill is always a favorite for me, these folks do it up right! check out this blog and this yummy recipe!

    March 3, 2014 at 7:33 pm

  14. edenmarket

    I really enjoy your writing about winter, being from back east I miss the real winters. Winter is snow or it should be. I did share your bit on the chicken quesadillas with my readers. Look forward to more good recipes and reading….Sher

    March 3, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    • Thanks kindly! Yes winter is at once a season of inspiration for me. The other seasons are all well and nice and undeniably beautiful, but there is something elemental and invigorating about winter. Something about it that stirs me. It is that sort of thing we try and share here, among the calories!

      March 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      • edenmarket

        Living in the midwest wind belt and tornado alley is very different. Though I have made home many places up and down the east coast, the winters here do not have the feel of a real snow winter. Growing up on the Great Lakes in northern michigan, then living in New England people celebrate being out of doors in the winter, from festivals on ice to ice skating snowmobiling and grilling in deep snow! Your blog reminds me of many a fun winter spent grilling out doors among many other great memories. Looking forward to the great food and pics! Thanks so much~Sherri

        March 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

  15. I’m not 100% sure but I do believe that Mexican fair was made purely for the sport of grilling. Grilling it enhances the bold flavors in such a wonderful way.

    March 8, 2014 at 7:16 am

    • You might be right on that. Any time I’ve done Mexican on the grill the fare has matured to the next level it seems. But the again, that is the case with almost anything we cook. Grilling is good!

      Thanks Mr Dodd!

      March 8, 2014 at 9:42 am

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