(many thanks to my hand model bro for this photo. :))
I can't tell you how many dollars we have spent on queso at the Mexican restaurants. One of our favorite local ones is La Fiesta and the last time we went there, we were celebrating the kids' school awards and we spent more than half our bill on queso. That's how good their queso is and that's how badly we are addicted! In fact, our addiction is so bad, that by the time our entrees arrive, we are always so stuffed full of queso and chips that we have to pack up our meals and eat them at home the next day for lunch. So....to save our wallets...I knew I needed to find a way to make it at home. So on Tuesday, after spending the day at Epcot and riding the boat ride in Mexico and smelling the amazing aromas wafting our way from the restaurant, we knew we had to have Mexican food that night. So we went to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants there in Orlando and my husband was brave enough to ask the waiter for the recipe. And he GAVE it to us! I couldn't believe it. I think I could've hugged him then and there--hubs and the waiter both, actually! And imagine my shock when our waiter said "It's American cheese!" Suddenly, everything clicked. All my queso attempts prior had been with Monterey Jack, cheddar and pepper jack. Now it all made sense why I never got that creamy, melty, perfect texture that all the restaurants have perfected: I was using the wrong cheese all along! So, last night, on our way back home from Orlando, I made my hubs stop at Publix so I could run in and get a big block of white american cheese from their deli counter. And today, first chance I got, I whipped up a batch. And. It's. AMAZING! Happy Dance!!! No more wasting way too much money at the Mexican restuarant when I can make it just as delicious at home. Next time we go to Sam's Club I'm going to buy my white american there because I know it will be cheaper. At $6/lb, I still spent $13 just on the cheese, so it really wasn't that much cheaper, but now that I know it works, I'll be finding a way to make it as cheap as possible. So, without further ado!
Makes 6-8 Servings
1 lb. block white american cheese, shredded or cubed
2-3 poblano peppers
3/4-1 cup half & half
Preheat oven to 425.
Wash your peppers and dry them completely. Place them on a baking sheet and in your preheated oven for 10 minutes. Flip them over and bake another 10 minutes. Pull them out and let them rest 5-10 minutes. Remove the skin and seeds and dice finely. In a double boiler, combine cheese, peppers and 3/4 cup half & half. Cook over medium-low heat until melted, whisking constantly, about 15 minutes. If it's too thick, add remaining 1/4 cup of half & half and whisk well. Serve with tortilla chips.
This was so easy and tastes so good. The poblano peppers are really perfect, but if you prefer you can use a can of diced green chiles and a half a can of diced jalapeño peppers instead. You can also microwave it in 30 second increments until fully melted, just don't let it boil over! If it comes to a boil fully it could separate and then you'll have a lumpy mess. As the cheese melts, it will appear lumpy, don't let that scare you! Just keep whisking and cooking until you get the texture you want. You can always thin it out even more if you prefer. We found that these three simple ingredients were perfect for us, especially when paired with salty tortilla chips, but if you want, you can always add a little salt, pepper and/or cumin. You can also make this directly on the stovetop rather than a double boiler, but again, keep it on low and whisk it constantly. You don't want to risk it burning and/or boiling over. We're hooked on this queso! We're already coming up with several ideas for it including breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, sandwiches, burgers, and yes...even a Mexican sushi roll. I promise when we do these, I'll keep you posted! Hope you're having a fantastic week. The weekend is nearly here! Have a great evening!