This weekI complained about the lack of Velveeta
in the cheese enchiladas at El Jardin. I take a lot of shit for my honesty on the subject of Velveeta.
While I was researching recipes for The Tex-Mex Cookbook, I came to realize it’s an unavoidable part of Tex-Mex. It was the cheese enchiladas at Larry’s in Richmond that convinced me. They make them with a Velveeta-like processed cheese. And that’s the only way to recreate the cheese enchiladas I remember from the 1970s, the ones that left a pool of cheese and chili gravy on the plate. If you don’t stuff them with Velveeta (or one of its equivalents), the cheese won’t bleed into the gravy.
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The main recipe for chile con queso in The Tex-Mex Cookbook comes from Mi Tierra in San Antonio and calls for equal parts Velveeta and cheddar, along with cream, jalapeño and onion.
In a discussion about imported and domestic cheese on the Portland Food and Drink Web site, my friend ExtraMSG takes me to task for my Velveeta recipes:
“I know Texans like Robb Walsh try to insist that Velveeta makes good food, but he’s just plain wrong. He’s drank a little too much of his own Tex-Mex apologist Kool-Aid. I’ll put mornay-based chili con queso made with a tasty cheddar against the salty solidified Cheez Whiz that is Velveeta.”
“He’s drank a little too much of his own Tex-Mex apologist Kool-Aid” is a hilarious turn of phrase. And I imagine that Velveeta would be a hard sell in a food hipster town like Portland. But if ExtraMSG is dipping tortilla chips in gruyere and parmesan-flavored mornay sauce, then either he doesn’t know the difference between queso and fondue, or he has gone over to the dork side. -- Robb Walsh