Chile con queso — cheese’s leap towards immortality.

Chile con queso — cheese’s leap towards immortality.

Apologies to Clifton Fadiman, but I really couldn’t help it.

Though my adoration for cheese has lasted for decades, it was my more specific love for cheese sauce that has persisted since before I could spell “sauce”.  The affair was renewed on a trip with Carmen Barefield to her home city of Austin, Texas, and Queso was the name of my mistress.  I had always been curious about making a genuine Tex-Mex chile con queso for myself and my guests, but I have a fear of possessing Velveeta: often used in real queso for its smooth melting qualities, but not actually being a real cheese itself (in fact, its top four ingredients are milk, water, milkfat, and whey).  If I was ever going to make chili con queso, it was going to be made out of something more satisfying, substantial, and from real cheese!  Sadly, sauce made from cheese tends to be terribly chunky; most definitely not in the spirit of a smooth, delectable queso dip.

My search for the elusive smooth, natural queso recipe recently ended, but for me it needed a little bit more; something from my experience making hearty, fire-roasted salsas. I’ve detailed the different and specific steps I take to make my variation of the chile con queso below.  It’s been a real hit in the parties I’ve served it in!

Chile con queso with chorizo

1 link of chorizo, genuine or turkey, with casing removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 serrano peppers
3 jalapeno peppers
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons white flour
1 cup buttermilk or half-and-half
6 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, any combination of Longhorn Cheddar, Monterrey Jack, or Oaxaca cheese (asadero or queso quesadilla)
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 can diced tomatoes or Ro*Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 lime
1/2 can black beans, drained (optional)
Salt to taste

  1. Cook chorizo in covered small saucepan on low heat for 8 minutes. Drain fat. Set aside.
  2. Preheat broiler on high. Toss serrano and jalapeno peppers with olive oil in broiling pan. Add a dash of salt. Broil peppers for 10 minutes, turning once.
  3. Remove peppers from broiling pan and dice.
  4. Melt butter in large saucepan on medium-low heat.  Add diced onion, garlic, and broiled peppers and cook until onions are translucent.
  5. Whisk flour into butter and vegetables, and cook for another minute.
  6. Whisk milk into saucepan, and continue whisking mixture for five minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken.
  7. Stir in cilantro and diced tomatoes.
  8. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add shredded cheese 1/4 of a cup of a time while stirring constantly.  Only add another 1/4 cup of cheese after the previous cup has melted into the mixture. Repeat.
  9. Squeeze in lime.  Stir in sour cream, chorizo, and black beans. Add salt to taste.
  10. Serve immediately with heated tortilla chips.

Serves four.

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