Quite a bit of confusion and murky lines lie between these and quesadillas. The end result is it doesn’t really matter.
However, for the sake of discussion and a few technicalities, here goes. Quesadillas are typically filled with cheese. The tortilla goes in a skillet, the filling goes on half and then it’s folded over and browned until the cheese melts. A sincronizada is layered with a tortilla flat in a skillet, then ham and cheese for filling followed by another tortilla on top (that’s the “synchronization” part). Numerous wonderfully tasty variations have come from these basics.
When you’re preparing sincronizadas for one or two, the skillet method is fast. It’s definitely no way to serve a crowd, though. Since we don’t like to deprive our guests, baking is the only way to go – and it works great! You can prepare many more all at once; they come out crispy, melty, and hot.
One last thing. You can set up a buffet for each guest to customize sincronizadas before placing them in the oven. Saute mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers separately ahead of time. Crisp up some jalapeno rings under the broiler for those who require a little heat. Guests can create their own and line them up. When they’re done, you can add all the traditional toppings: crema, guacamole, pico de gallo.
For simple sincronizadas (pictured above), I used sliced packaged ham and asadero cheese. Since asadero tends to spread, it needs to be added in the last six minutes of baking. The ham is cut in strips, so it will heat faster. So tasty. My buffet line is shown below – just to make your mouth water a little more!
Sincronizadas Makes 20
10 Flour tortillas, smaller fajita size, cut in half Strips of ham – 5-6 per section 5 slices asadero cheese, quartered (use Monterey or pepper jack if desired for a stringier melt)
–Preheat oven to 350ºF. –Line a cookie sheet with foil. Coat lightly with a cooking spray. –Lay out the tortilla halves on a separate tray or plate. –On one half, add strips of ham. –Fold over and place on the baking sheet. –Add a light layer of cooking spray on the tops. –Bake until the bottoms begin to brown (about 20 minutes). –Raise the top of each tortilla and slide in a slice of cheese. –Turn and bake for another 6-7 minutes. –Remove when both sides are crispy and lightly browned.
If you plan to add ingredients, cooking them ahead of time will be much easier. Just set them out in bowls, give each guest a plate of halved tortillas and let them loose in your kitchen.