Friday, February 21, 2014

Spicy Queso

It's hard to resist those little jars of yellow goo when I'm in the snack aisle grabbing a bag of tortilla chips. It's also pretty hard to say no to Velveeta. But why put God-knows-what chemicals in your body when the real deal is just as delicious and quite simple to make? I don't know! There really is no excuse.

I made this queso wayyyy back when (for our Super Bowl feast). I'm always a few weeks behind on sharing posts just because I have so many queued up. And that's what I have to do to be able to post regularly. I aim for every weekday and sometimes I drop the ball but in general, I do it. Okay, blah blah blah, I completely went off on a tangent there, sorry. So, enough rambling and onto the cheese!
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ onion, diced
½ cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or American or Monterey Jack or whatever smoothly melting cheese you like)
1 plum tomato, diced
1 jalapeño, diced

Chop up the vegetables. If you're not a fan of overly spicy foods you can remove the seeds and the ribs from the jalapeño. Or, you could substitute a poblano (less spicy) or a bell pepper (zero spice).
Add the butter to a saucepan and heat over a medium flame. Add in the garlic and about half of the diced onion and cook until the onions are soft. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine; this is what is known as a roux. Cook the floury butter mixture for two or three minutes to cook away the raw flour flavor. Pour in the milk and whisk vigorously until a smooth sauce forms; this is what is known as a bechamel.
Once the sauce thickens - to a toothpaste-like consistency - add in the cheese and mix until it all melts and the queso sauce is smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Dump in the tomato, jalapeño, and remaining diced onion and mix together and that's it! Pretty easy, huh? Not as easy as pushing a button on the microwave but still do-able, I'd say.
Serve with a bunch of tortilla chips. You could even serve it with some vegetables - like carrot sticks and broccoli and bell peppers. The sauce is best when it's nice and warm. It'll thicken a little as it cools. If you have a fondue pot, that would be a nice way to keep it hot and gooey.

I love this queso. The bits of jalapeño are an amazing spicy accompaniment to the salty cheese and the bites of sweet onion and tomato. Seriously, look at that photo below. Those little jars won't tempt you anymore, right? Well, maybe not as often.
Here's the recipe page:

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