If you’re not from Texas, you probably have no idea what the hell queso is. I know, I know, you think you know that it means “cheese” in Spanish and you are correct in that. But to a Texan, queso means something completely different. Sometimes called chili con queso, or queso dip to differentiate it from a bowl of shredded cheddar, our Tex-Mex queso means melted processed American cheese with tomatoes and peppers and nothing else. You may see things on menus like “queso fundido” and “queso flameado” and those things are great and good and much more authentically Mexican, but they are in no way similar to the real deal Texas queso.
And don’t think you’ve had real queso on those 7-11 nachos you secretly eat sometimes. “Nacho cheese sauce” is also completely dissimilar from our beloved queso.
Every Christmas, my paternal grandmother would make “her queso”. It’s not much different from anyone else’s queso, really, but she took a lot of pride in it. She’d saute onions in bacon fat (later, in the 80′s the bacon fat was replaced by a stick of oleo.) then add canned green chilies and whole canned tomatoes that she’d crush in her hands. When Ro-Tel brand tomatoes-with-green-chilies became available, she switched over to that.
- 1 very large onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons bacon fat, butter, or margarine (oleo)
- 1 or 2 cans tomatoes with green peppers
- 2 pounds Velveeta (or Easy Melt cheese)
- Optional additions:
- cooked chorizo
- black or pinto beans, cooked
- cooked bacon cubes
- beef taco filling
- guacamole or avocado chunks
- Tortilla chips for serving
- In a large skillet, saute onion in fat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes over medium heat.
- Add tomatoes and peppers.
- Cube cheese (1″) and add to skillet. Stir over low heat until smooth and melted.
- Add optional ingredients.
- Keep warm in a slow-cooker over low heat. If your cooker doesn’t have a removable insert, save yourself a lot of trouble and fill the cooker up ½ way with water, put your queso in a glass or metal bowl that fits in the cooker, resting on the lip, and use the slow cooker as a double-boiler. Much easier to wash the bowl that way.
- (This will also keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks with no problemos.)
For more delicious additions to your queso: