Queso with REAL CHEESE

This weekend we decided to stay in…all weekend. That’s pretty rare – usually there’s at least one dinner out or at a friend’s house. Despite clear skies, dry roads, and no obligations, nothing sounded better than staying home, gorging on some good food, and watching Netflix for endless hours.

Our feast of choice? Nachos. Not shredded cheese microwaved on some Tostitos, or jar of “nacho” cheese for us. Flavorful meat, a variety of toppings, and most importantly: homemade queso. Afterall, it is Fromage February!

I came across this recipe and knew it was the one. So many recipes called for Velveeta (hurl) or deli American cheese. I wanted the real deal – with actual cheese, and a little kick. I made a few minor adjustments to scale the recipe down to a still-excessive portion for two people.

A few helpful hints for successful cheese-sauce making. First, ALWAYS use freshly shredded cheese, not the stuff from the bag. I use my food processor and it takes 1 minute. Most recipes call for whole milk or cream – I use whatever I have on hand. Use VERY LOW heat, and stir often, or you’ll burn your cheese and spend days scrubbing your pan.

Side note: I ran out of cheddar so I used 4 oz of cheddar & 2 oz of muenster along with the monterey jack.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, diced – or 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 serrano chile, diced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, more as needed
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with chiles, drained
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt butter in saucepan, add shallot/onion and cook until translucent.
  2. Add peppers and garlic, then sprinkle on the flour, and stir to coat.
  3. Add milk slowing, whisking the mixture constantly to break up lumps, until thickened.
  4. Add tomatoes & cilantro.
  5. Add cheese a handful at a time, stirring constantly. The mixture will be lumpy and stringy and you’ll be worried something went wrong.
  6. Keeping the pan on low heat, continue to stir until all cheese is melted.
  7. Add sour cream and mix until smooth.
  8. If the sauce is too thick, slowly add more milk and continue to stir.
  9. Serve with copious amounts of fresh, salty tortilla chips.

For the nachos:

  • Carne asada from the local grocery store, seared medium rare
  • Black beans
  • Corn, slightly roasted with seasoned salt and chili powder
  • Fresh chopped tomato
  • Simple guacamole (1 large avocado mashed with the juice of half a lime and salt)
  • Sour cream

I heated the chips on a large baking sheet in the oven for about 8 minutes, then added the meat, beans, corn and tomatoes before covering with a hefty dose of the queso. Last, I added dollops of guac & sour cream! We won’t talk about how quickly this was consumed.

The best part? Tons of leftovers! Later this week we’ll be having chicken burrito bowls, Qdoba style, with queso.

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