This summer I will take my middle school students to San Miguel de Allende and already the menu of what they’ll eat dances in my head. It should be authentic but not too exotic, healthy, but appealing to even the least adventurous 13-year-old. Some things are just going to look mysterious to them, but they will not leave Mexico without tasting mole in the Oaxacan style. The experience at the table is another facet of the culture, another dimension of the country and its people. Hence, missing out on the gastronomic opportunities is a total loss, no matter how many hours of Spanish you offer students.
In addition to large meals, the boys will have meriendas (snacks). The stomach of an adolescent boy is a bottomless pit, there is no end to their hunger, and today’s recipe is a perfect quick, hot meal on the run. It’s a kind of glorified quesadilla, called sincronizada. Instead of just the tortilla and melted cheese, it includes shaved cooked ham, but it can be simply sliced ham, although, the better the quality of the cooked ham, the better it turns out, of course. In Mexico, these are always made with corn tortillas. When I made these here at home in the U.S. this week, I was unable to find the quality of corn tortillas that I like, so I used whole wheat flour tortillas, hence the name Sincronizadas Gringas.
To prepare these for four, you’ll need a dozen tortillas (preferably corn if you can find the ones that really taste like freshly nixtamalized masa). For the cheese, use Chihuahua cheese or any kind of cheese that melts easily, like muenster, Monterey Jack or a mild cheddar. For the shaved ham, you will need about half a pound.
- A dozen flour or corn tortillas
- Approximately ⅓ pound cheese similar to Muenster, Monterey Jack, or any mild cheddar
- ½ pound shaved good quality cooked ham
- Place as many of the tortillas as you can fit on an oiled iron skillet or comal (preheated to medium heat).
- Turn them over and then start arranging the ham and cheese, placing another tortilla on top (the warm side), taking care to use the cheese as the ‘glue’ that will hold the two tortillas together with the ingredients inside.
- After about 2 minutes, turn the entire sincronizada to heat the other side.
- After the tortillas look freckly, and, more importantly, the cheese is melted, place them on a wooden board and cut them in 4 wedges.
- Serve them while they are hot, with or without sauce.