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Prep 10 mins
Cook 30 mins
I've come across various recipes for chile con queso in my time, and aside from the tried and true method which entails a pound of Velveeta, a can of extra hot Rotel, and a can of black beans heated until the orange stuff melts (for which I must confess a weekness), this one works about the best. Fans of French cooking will recognize immediately that it's simply a jazzed up rendition of a bechamel sauce and they'd be right, except that this stuff is so much more than the sum of its parts. Before we get started, a few notes: The whole idea is to produce a cheese dip/sauce that's both smoky and spicy, so I personally recommend using chipotles that have been dried and bagged as opposed to the ones canned in adobo sauce (which are fine, but what you'll really be doing is adding adobo flavor to your queso, which will markedly change its character). Before you add them to the queso, you should do one of the following to your chipotles if using dried ones: A) Stem them and either whack them in a blender or food processor until they're basically powder or grind them to a pulp with a mortar and pestle (of course, you can seed and de-vein them if a mild dip is what you're after). B) Bring some water (the volume of water isn't critical as long as you have enough to cover the chipotles) to a boil and remove from heat. Drop in your chiles, using a plate or some other improvised kitchen implement to keep them submerged, and let soak for around 15 minutes before stemming, seeding and de-veining (if desired) and chopping. This will soften them up so they're easier to work with, and also has the benefit of muting some of the heat. Unfortunately, it does the same to the smokey flavor as well. If you're using jalapeños, I'd recommend roasting them either in a broiler or on your range top until the skin is blackened. Remove the skin, stem, seeds and vein (again, for a milder dip), chop, and use as indicated. Finally, I recommend going with either asadero or an extra sharp white cheddar. Monterrey jack works great because it melts really well, but it's so mild in flavor that it takes a back seat to the other ingredients. What we want is first and foremost a cheese dip, so a more piquant cheese like the ones mentioned above is probably best.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1⁄4 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk (though 2% will do in a pinch)
- 3⁄4-1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 (8 ounce) can mild green chilies, drained
- 1 -4 jalapenos or 1 -4 chipotle chile, depending on desired heat level
- 1⁄2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (preferably a Vidalia if you can get them)
- 2 -3 garlic cloves, depending on size, minced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces monterey jack cheese or 8 ounces asadero cheese or 8 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 pinch salt and pepper, to taste
- Saute onions in olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown. Add garlic cloves and cook an additional 1-2 minutes until garlic becomes translucent. Set aside.
- Now, a critical step. We're going to prepare a roux, and if you screw this up, your dip either won't thicken properly or will have a funky grainy texture. So, be careful. In a 2 qt saucepan, melt butter gently over low heat. We don't want the butter to brown, so just be patient and melt it slowly. Add your flour, turn the heat up just a smidge until the roux begins to bubble ever so slightly, and using a whisk stir constantly for about a minute.
- Next, add about a half cup of milk and continue whisking until the roux is fully incorporated and dissolved. Add the rest of your milk and continue whisking, now over medium-low to medium heat, for about 8-10 minutes until your mixture thickens nicely.
- Back the heat down a hair. Add your chipotles or jalepeños, about half the cumin, the onion and garlic mixture, the mild green chiles. Stir to thoroughly incorporate and heat through. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Now to add the cheese: Don't add it all at once, otherwise it won't melt properly and you'll wind up with a grainy, stringy mess. Instead, add a small handful and stir until that bit is fully melted. Repeat this process until you've fully incorporated all your cheese and your concoction is thick and creamy.
- Finally, you can adjust the seasonings to your liking. Not smoky enough? Add more cumin. Not enough heat? You can add another chipotle/jalepeño or you can cheat and just add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce. Serve immediately as a side for quesadillas, a topping for enchiladas, or simply with some warm tortilla chips as a party dip.
OMG - come back post more please! This is just the kind of recipe I like - detailed and full of tips in the intro - lovely recipe with tons of ways to alter/add/enjoy. THANK YOU!