Dish of the Week: Queso Fundido
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.
This week, we’re sharing a crowd-pleaser perfect for a New Year’s Eve party: queso fundido.
Also known as queso flameado (Spanish for “flamed cheese”), queso fundido is a northern Mexican dish of hot melted cheese that is served in a casserole and flambéed, melted or broiled until bubbly and golden. Cheeses such as Oaxaca cheese (asadero) and Chihuahua cheese are traditional, though some contemporary recipes incorporate mozzarella or less traditional cheeses like goat cheese or fresh farmer’s cheese.
Queso fundido is different from chile con queso in that the cheese here is a bit stretchy, though it’s still plenty gooey. It is typically served spooned onto warm, soft tortillas (corn is traditional but flour can be used).
Fresh chorizo is another common ingredient, with other variations including strips of roasted chiles, earthy mushrooms, onion and spices. Rum, brandy or tequila can be poured over the cheese, ignited and folded into the sauce as it cooks off.
This recipe, from chef Rick Bayless, incorporates Chihuahua cheese, chorizo and poblano chiles. Other cheeses, like asadero or even Monterey Jack, can be substituted.
Queso Fundido With Chorizo and Rajas
2 fresh poblano chiles
4 ounces (1/2 cup) Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed if there is one
1 medium white onion, sliced
12 corn tortillas, the fresher the better (store-bought are okay, though homemade will really shine)
8 ounces Chihuahua or other Mexican melting cheese such as quesadilla or asadero, shredded (about 2 cups)*
About 1 teaspoon or so of crumbled dried oregano, preferably Mexican
*Lacking Mexican cheese, queso fundido is delicious made with everything from Monterey jack to mild cheddar
Roasting the poblano chiles: Roast the poblanos on an open flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning regularly until the skin is evenly blistered and blackened, about 5 minutes for an open flame, about 10 minutes for the broiler. Be careful not to char the flesh — only the skin. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 5 minutes. Rub off the blackened skin, then pull or cut out the stems and the seed pods. Tear the chiles open and quickly rinse to remove stray seeds and most bits of skin. Cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips about 2 inches long.
The chorizo-poblano mixture: In a medium-size skillet (preferably nonstick), cook the chorizo over medium heat, stirring to break up any clumps, until half-cooked, about 5 minutes. As the chorizo heats, it should render enough fat to cook the meat; if the mixture seems dry, add a little oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is richly golden and the chorizo done, about 10 minutes. If the mixture looks very oily, drain. Stir in the poblano strips, taste and season with salt as needed.
Finishing the queso fundido: Sprinkle in the cheese. Stir slowly and constantly until just melted — too long over the heat and the cheese will become tough, oily and stringy. Immediately scoop into a warm serving dish (a small fondue dish with a tea light below is ideal). Sprinkle with the crumbled oregano and serve without a moment’s hesitation, accompanied by the warm tortillas.
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