Real Cheese Crock Pot Queso
You pretty much have to live in Texas to understand the bizarre relationship Texans have with Tex Mex food. I know many enlightened Texans who eat fresh and healthy right up to the edge of their queso bowl. When it comes to Mexican cheese dip, as my sister’s college friends in Mississippi called it, all diets and good eating habits are ignored. I think the cheese makes us lose touch with all common sense.
When I asked people how they make queso, almost every one of them said they use a can of Rotel and a block of Velveeta in a crock pot. Some of them doll it up with chorizo or sauteed onions and peppers, but most use the same formula. Why? Because it’s easy and it makes the “definitive” queso – yellow, slightly spicy, gooey queso. Even some very talented chhefs I know said they use Velveeta and I’ve heard rumors that some of Austin’s finest restaurants use the big V for the queso. (You can torture me, but I’ll never tell who.)
I, of course, have issues with this. I’ve done it. I’ve made the Rotel/Velveeta queso combo, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to eat processed cheese food or whatever it is – big nasty yellow blocks that don’t have to be refrigerated. It grosses me out. But, I do love me some queso. So, for this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration (celebrating Mexico’s victory over the French), I decided to ditch the queso box.
My favorite “natural” queso is from Homesick Texan. This makes a terrific spicy, queso with the perfect consistency. I love this recipe. I, however, have been told by several people that, while this queso is lovely, they wouldn’t go to that much trouble. It requires, well, chopping, stirring, whisking and, you know, cooking. If you are up for the work, I think this is THE recipe.
So, back to the drawing board for me. I was told I had to make it in a crock pot for it to be a viable candidate. Ugh.
I scoured the internet, I poured over my cookbooks, I found a few ideas that might work and I started testing. And, I failed. The first recipe came out grainy. Yuck. And, I failed again. The second recipe came out runny. I was starting to feel like a queso Goldilocks. Fortunately, on the third try, I found success.
The queso came out to a nice, melty consistency with just enough spice. The only issue I have with this test is the color. I used half monterrey jack and half cheddar cheese and it’s came out a little more orange than yellow. The taste was great, so I’m going to call it a win, but next time, I will use all cheddar cheese to get that pretty yellow hue.
Also, I used two cans of diced tomatoes and chiles. You could use 1 can and then use 8-10 oz of your favorite salsa instead. If you do this, add the salsa a little bit at a time as it may contain more liquid and make the queso runny.
Real Cheese Crock Pot Queso
Serves 6 as appetizer
8 oz of cream cheese
2 10 oz cans of diced tomatoes and chiles
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Place the cream cheese and 1 can of diced tomatoes and chiles (including the liquid) in your crock pot and turn the temperature to high. Stir occasionally while the cheese melts, about 15 minutes.
When the cream cheese is completely melted, stir in the cheddar cheese. Stir occasionally while the cheese melts, watching the consistency. Add the second can of tomatoes and chiles a little bit at a time as your stirring until the mixture is thick enough to stick to a chip, but not stringy or ropey.
Turn the crock pot down to low to keep the queso warm and serve with tortilla chips.