Velveeta-free restaurant-style queso.
Not to pat my own back or anything, but in my circle I’m kind of known as the queso queen. People have actually requested I make my special queso for my own birthday party. It probably stems from the fact that I’ve been a little bit of an addict of the stuff ever since I was a kid. In the summer time I used to roll out of bed and eat queso for breakfast in front of Soaps. Sometimes I would dress it up with salsa, but sometimes I would just eat the melted cheese plain.
Since then, my palette has become slightly more refined. A bowl of cheese is simply not enough anymore. While my velveeta version of queso is mostly what people rave on about, I can’t help but continue to make it better and better still. (Hint: for people to rave about YOUR Velveeta queso, simply add caramelized onions and fresh chopped garlic with the rotel and everything else. Also, cutting it with broth instead of milk helps keep it from getting a film on it.) This time, I wanted to make something extra special, and also kind of copy the restaurants that put steak in their queso.
To make a homemade, Velveeta free queso that isn’t lumpy, it’s all in the cheese selection. Finding a white queso recipe that doesn’t just call for white American cheese is somewhat difficult. I didn’t want to use American cheese, which many people even claim “isn’t real cheese.” I wanted to use, for lack of a better word, “real cheese.” For the appropriate melting cheese, I looked to our neighbors to the south: Mexico. I don’t know how they do it, but when it comes to cheese that melts really well Mexico wins. You want to look for Asadero, Oaxaca, Queso Quesadilla, or anything else that says “melting cheese” on the package. Most grocery store chains will carry at least one of these cheeses, or you can always head to the Mexican grocery store which will have a bigger assortment. This cheese will serve as your base. If you want to fancy it up with another cheese (I used gruyere, but you can use a sharp cheddar, brie, whatever your little heart desires), make sure you don’t use too much because it will ruin the consistency. A little bit will give it plenty of flavor.
Steak and poblano queso
- 1/2 Large onion (diced)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2lb vension steak
- 2 poblano peppers
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 pint milk
- 3 cups asadero cheese (or other melting cheese, shredded)
- 1/2-1 cup gruyere (shredded)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 can diced green chiles or Rotel
|Put your oven on broil. On a foil lined pan, put the steak and the poblanos close to the heat source. Once the skin on the poblanos has blistered (about 5 minutes), flip them with tongs. Continue to cook until all the skin has blistered (another 5-10 minutes). The steak should be done about the same time, depending on your desired doneness and thickness. Cover the steak with foil and set aside for later. Put the poblanos in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and add the diced onion and a little salt. Cover and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally.
|Once the poblanos are cool enough to touch, peel the skins off, then pull off the stem and seeds and roughly chop. Chop the steak into small cubes, slices, or shred if you can. Set both aside.
|In a pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour and cook for a few minutes, making a roux. Turn the heat down a notch and add half of the milk. Whisk until roux is incorporated and milk is warm. Add the cheeses slowly, whisking the whole time. If the queso starts to get a little thick, add some more milk. (Keep in mind that the queso will thicken as it cools, so it should seem a little bit runny by the end of it.) Once all the cheese has melted, add the pobalanos, steak, caramelized onions and spices. Serve with tortillas or tortilla chips.