Queso fundido

During the winter, I love to eat warm, hearty treats. There’s something about the winter weather that makes you want to eat things that’ll stick to your ribs, right?

This past weekend, I made a very simple queso fundido that really hit the spot. Given that I just shared a recipe for homemade chorizo earlier this week, I thought it would be nice to give you another way to use that during the holidays for a quick and easy party treat.

Whether you’re hosting at home or need to bring a dish to a posada or any other type of party, this is a super simple recipe that’s sure to wow guests. To take it to go, just prepare in the crock or a casserole dish and wait until you arrive at the party to pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Don’t forget to bring some tortillas!

RELATED RECIPE: Vegetarian queso fundido with mushrooms and poblano chiles

We like to make tacos out of this recipe, but you can absolutely also serve it dip-style with chips if you like.

Queso fundido

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: About 10 tacos

Queso fundido is a classic Mexican appetizer that can be eaten with warm tortillas or tortilla chips. You choose the mix-ins!

Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 ounces cooked chorizo
  • 14 ounces shredded Chihuahua or Quesadilla cheese
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Cook your chorizo first and set aside to drain the grease over paper towels.
  2. In a microwave-proof dish, grate the Chihuahua or Quesadilla cheese and microwave at intervals of 30 seconds until mostly melted. Stir if necessary to heat evenly.
  3. Spray a little non-stick cooking spray in a small oven-proof crock (an individual-size soup crock will hold half this recipe and is what I typically use and make a second serving). Pour the melted cheese into the crock. Add half the chorizo and fold in gently.
  4. Set your oven broiler on low and place the crock at least 6-8 inches from the flame. Heat for about 5-6 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and gets brown spots. Be sure to use a pot holder or oven mitt to remove the crock or oven-proof dish from underneath the broiler.
  5. Place the crock or dish on a trivet and serve with warm tortillas to make tacos or hearty tortilla chips if you want to serve it more as a dip.

Notes

Note: the cooking spray is completely optional; I like to use it because it helps a lot with cleanup and getting all the cheese out of the dish before it makes it to my sink.

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2011/12/queso-fundido/

  • What do you like in your queso fundido?

Chorizo casero

I always used to buy chorizo prepackaged or from the butcher because I thought it would be too hard to make at home. After months of wondering, I finally decided to delve in and give it a shot. The results were fantastic! Now that I know how incredibly easy it is to do on my own, I’ll think twice next time I reach for a package of chorizo in the grocery store.

A lot of people think of Spanish chorizo when they read chorizo in an ingredient list, and though Mexican chorizo is different, it’s equally delicious. Spanish chorizo is a hard sausage-like cured meat (think similar to a cured hard salami), and Mexican chorizo is a soft sausage-like meat, almost like a breakfast sausage patty if you broke it up into little bite-size pieces.

I love to use chorizo in a variety of ways: anything from breakfast dishes such as huevo con chorizo, to snacks such as queso fundido, to spicing up vegetables in dishes such as calabacitas rellenas. It’s also great as a topper to tostadas or sopes.

I used a blend of three chiles to make my chorizo slightly spicy and also some chopped onion and garlic to give it the right texture. The vinegar helps with giving the meat the signature crumble of Mexican chorizo.

Chorizo Casero | Homemade Chorizo

Chorizo Casero | Homemade Chorizo

My chorizo recipe was recommended by the New York Times Diner's Journal in December 2011.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 cups of water (for soaking the chiles)
  • 4 chile guajillo
  • 3 chile de arbol
  • 1 chile ancho
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 quarter-inch thick slice of white onion (one slice will go in food processor; other will be finely chopped)
  • 7 large garlic cloves (reserve 2 for later)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Nakano rice vinegar

Instructions

  1. Bring two cups of water to a boil and remove from heat. Tear off the chile stems and soak the chiles for at least an hour or until completely soft. When the chiles are soft, remove them from the water, drain, and discard all the water. Do not remove the seeds from the chiles.
  2. Place the chiles, oregano, salt, pepper, one quarter-inch thick slice of onion and five cloves of garlic into the food processor or blender. Run for 5-10 seconds. Add the apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar. Reseal top of food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture is a smooth paste.
  3. In a glass mixing bowl, add the ground pork and make a well in the middle of the meat. Add half of the chile mixture and gently work it into the meat. Add the second half and repeat.
  4. In the food processor add the two remaining garlic cloves and pulse a few times so that it's roughly chopped. Add to the meat and chile mixture.
  5. Finely chop the second quarter-inch thick slice of onion. Add to meat and mix well to incorporate.
  6. Transfer the chorizo to an airtight container or a plastic zippered bag and store in the refrigerator for four to six days. It needs that time to cure and for the seasoning to mellow out. If you eat it before curing it, it may taste too spicy or too salty, the garlic will be very potent and the vinegar will be strong. If you can bear to leave it alone for six days to cure, it's worth the wait.
  7. After a few days, some liquid will run off the meat, which is completely normal. You can dump it out when you notice it or you can leave it up until you're ready to cook the chorizo. Be sure to discard the liquid either way.
  8. When it's ready to be eaten, just heat a frying man over medium heat, add the chorizo and fry it up until it's crumbly and well-done. Drain over paper towels and use in your favorite dish.

Notes

You can refrigerate cooked or uncooked leftovers for a few days or freeze raw meat in an airtight container or plastic zippered bag for a few weeks.

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2011/12/chorizo-casera/
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Calabacitas rellenas

Calabacitas rellenas: Grilled Mexican green squash, stuffed with chilaca chiles, chorizo and queso fresco. Get the recipe from theothersideofthetortilla.com.

One of the things I love most about the summer is grilling. It’s an opportunity to do all kinds of different things with meats and vegetables that I don’t get a chance to do during the rest of the year.

During the spring and summer, my local Mexican markets have a wider variety of produce which means endless combinations for creative dinners at my house. I’ve recently been craving calabacita, a zucchini-like squash that has lighter green speckled skin, and is also one of José’s favorites. As I was strolling through the aisles, I was trying to decide what to stuff them with and as soon as I saw chilaca chiles, I knew that was what I wanted.

They’re long and skinny with dark green skin, but you may recognize them better when they’re dried – known as chile pasilla. When fresh, they’re mild with a very subtle sweet flavor and you can char and peel them just the same way you do with a poblano.

This dish is a variation of one that José grew up eating and when I served it for dinner over the weekend, the first thing he said after taking a bite was, “sabe a mi casa.” To me, that’s the ultimate compliment.

TIPS: If you don’t have a grill or want to make this dish during other times of the year, you can also use a grill pan to cook the calabacitas. You can roast and sweat chilaca chiles in the same way you would with poblano chiles.

If you’ve never roasted chiles before, check out my tutorial on how to roast poblano chiles.

This dish can also be made vegetarian-friendly if you substitute soyrizo for the chorizo…. 

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FRIJOLES CHARROS

frijoles charros

For weeks, José has been bugging me to make his Tía Carola’s frijoles charros. Outside of El Charco de Las Ranas, his favorite taquería in Mexico City, Tía Carola’s frijoles charros are the only ones he has ever raved about.

Until now.

When I asked for the recipe a few weeks ago, it felt like I was playing “teléfono descompuesto” with at least three people – where something surely gets lost every time someone relays the message on to another person. José called his sister, who called his aunt; then his sister called him back and he translated the ingredients to me. Note that he only relayed the ingredient list and not the portions. And he only got a vague set of instructions. Apparently, Tía Carola is not exactly keen on lots of details and also hasn’t made this dish in at least 10 years. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous about making this vaunted recipe with such a vague idea of what I was supposed to do.

I returned from the store with a big bag of frijoles pintos (in English: pinto beans). José argued with me that I had bought the wrong beans because they were supposed to be frijoles bayos. I knew that, but couldn’t find them at the store so I settled confidently on a hand-sifted bag of carefully chosen pinto beans. I settled the argument with a quick google search that ended in my favor, which had me secretly feeling proud on the inside that I knew frijoles pintos and frijoles bayos were not the same, but often interchangeable because of their similarities in taste, color and texture ‑ especially in this recipe.

I knew when José argued with me about the beans that he was going to be a tough customer to please. I lit one of my San Judas Tadeo candles (the patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations) and hoped for a culinary Hail Mary pass with my limited instructions and the guesswork lying ahead. I was short on time with no room for mistakes since I was making the frijoles charros for lunch on a weekday and all I had as a backup were some emergency TV dinners in the freezer. Who could have ever imagined there could be so much pressure behind a pot of beans?

As I served the frijoles charros, my stomach was in knots. Would they live up to Tía Carola’s recipe? I waited for the verdict as he savored the first spoonful…. 

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