Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Secret's in the Cheese

I lived in Washington, D.C. for about a year, and during that time, it was nearly impossible to find a Mexican restaurant in the city that served white cheese dip. Sure, restaurants had cheese dip on the menu, and I made the mistake of ordering it a couple times. When a bowl of bright orange glop (sometimes with diced, canned tomatoes or ground sausage mixed in) was brought to my table, I would think, "Who ordered this? I asked for cheese dip!" Call me picky or snobby or whatever you want, but the only cheese dip I'll eat is queso blanco, a.k.a. Mexican white cheese dip.

Now, I live in the Dirty South again, where white cheese dip is the norm - whew, thank goodness! Also, select restaurants in D.C., like Los Cuates in Georgetown, have caught on to the white cheese dip phenomenon. But back in the day, I used to quell my frequent cravings by making my own at home in my teeny, tiny apartment in The District. Turns out, it's a super simple process that takes 15 minutes to put together and costs $10 max. For those of you who have always wondered how those Mexican restaurants do it, the secret is in the cheese, my friends. I use white American cheese from the deli counter (Land O'Lakes brand), but you also can use Asadero or Manchego.

I made a batch of queso last night for "Glee Club" at Molly's house, and she made Mr. C's Enchiladas with pulled, roasted chicken instead of beef.

Try out the following Queso Blanco recipe the next time you have a fiesta!

Note: Obviously, cheese dip is best served warm. Consider cooking and serving it in a crock pot if you have one, especially if you're making a large batch for a big group of friends - it's easier than making multiple trips back and forth to the mircowave!

Homemade Queso Blanco with Fresh Jalapenos (Serves 8)


1 lb. white american cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped


Place first two ingredients in a small pan or crock pot. Cook over low heat until melted and well blended, stirring occasionally. Once the cheese is fully melted, check the consistency. If the mixture is too thick for your taste, add more milk and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

Transfer to a bowl or serve the dip right out of the crock pot. Garnish with fresh jalapeno and serve with tortilla chips and salsa.

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