What Are Gringas?
Gringas are a type of Mexican food that resembles a combination of a taco and a quesadilla. Cheese is melted between two tortillas, and marinated meat is placed on top of that along with onions, cilantro, pineapple, chili sauce and other ingredients, depending on the tastes of the cook. The tortillas used are generally made from flour, and the meat used is often marinated pork, although corn tortillas and beef are used in some areas. The fillings for gringas can vary from beans to peppers to avocado. The variations on gringas from region to region, and even from household to household, leave a vague definition for the entire meal as a folded quesadilla filled with meat, onions and cilantro.
The traditional meat used to make most gringas is prepared in a style known as al pastor. This is a large cut of pork that is marinated in a chili marinade for anywhere from one to three days until it has absorbed the flavor. The marinated pork is then put on a vertical spit with pineapple slices and onions placed on top. As the pork cooks on the spit, the juices from the pineapple drip down and tenderize the meat, while the onion does the same, both adding a unique flavor. When the meat is done cooking, it can be shaved thinly from the larger cut.
The preparation of gringas begins by heating two tortillas. Tortillas are flat, round pieces of dough. They can be made from flour or corn but are usually of the flour variety when used to make gringas. Each of the tortillas is cooked on a dry, hot surface until it starts to brown. When done, cheese is placed on top of one and then covered with the second to sandwich the cheese between the tortillas.
The type of cheese used can vary, although queso fresco is traditional in Mexico. In some areas, particularly when gringas are made in the United States, Monterey jack cheese can be used. Mozzarella or queso Oaxaca also are common choices.
The two tortillas filled with cheese, now called a quesadilla, are then topped with thin pieces of the spiced meat. This can be accompanied by onions and cilantro to complete the gringas, although other ingredients are usually added. Pineapples can be placed on top of the tortillas, as can avocado, baked beans, more cheese, tomatoes or roasted peppers. Once all the toppings have been added, the tortillas are folded in half and eaten like a taco.
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