Quesadilla Burgers

Q: Chef, with playoff season almost here, I am looking for a great tailgate item that will top all the other tailgaters around me. Burger and brats, ribs and BBQ are fine, but I am looking for something a little uncommon. I heard about your Gator Ribs for the Florida and Mizzou game last year and just had to come up and try them. Touchdown! What’s in your bag for this season?

A: The Gator Ribs last year were awesome! They were dry-rubbed and slow-cooked with bacon, and then smoked over apple and pecan wood for that great smoky flavor. This year, I am pulling flavors from a little farther south of Cajun country. I’ve combined two of my favorite sports foods into one caliente masterpiece that would make any tailgater drool for more!

Quesadilla Burgers (serves 4)


4 8-oz. ground chuck burgers

4 12-inch flour tortillas

4 4-oz. grilled chicken breast, julienned

12 oz. pepperjack cheese, shredded

½ white onion, julienned

1 red pepper, julienned

1 green pepper, julienned

1 3-oz. can pureed chipotle peppers

½ t sea salt

¼ t black pepper

2 oz. rapeseed or vegetable oil

For Garnish:

2 c green cabbage, shredded

1 jalapeño pepper, sliced

8 T roasted salsa

4 T sour cream

4 T guacamole

2 fresh limes, quartered

1 red onion, julienned and pickled (see directions)

½ c lime juice

1/8 t sea salt


First, we are going to make the pickled red onions. Take your julienned red onions and blanch them in boiling water for 10 seconds. Place in bowl and pour chilled lime juice over the onion and add salt. Cover and chill overnight for best results.

To make the burgers, start by grilling burgers to medium doneness. Sauté onions and peppers until tender. Heat a large 14-inch pan to medium heat.

For each burger, add a little oil to coat the bottom of the pan and place the tortilla into the pan. While it is browning, spread a tablespoon of the pureed chipotle pepper on the tortilla, and add one-fourth of the following ingredients: chicken, cheese, sautéed onion and peppers. Now place the cooked burger in the center of the tortilla.

Fold the edge of the tortilla to the center of the burger, working your way around until the burger is completely covered. It should form a round circle around the burger. Turn the quesadilla over to brown on the other side and this will seal the edges together.

Remove from pan and place on plate. Top with shredded green cabbage and pickled onions. Garnish with roasted salsa, sour cream, guacamole and a squeeze of lime.

Chef John Johnson is executive chef at River City Casino. For questions or recipe requests, email him at John.Johnson@rivercity.com.

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