This Tex-Mex classic packs a lot of flavor from cheese, diced vegetables, and seasonings. The creamy ingredients somewhat tone down the spicy elements, but just enough heat is left to make it interesting.
(And, in case you were wondering, queso means “cheese” and is pronounced KEH-soh.)
- 32 ounces (about 900 grams) asadero cheese or queso quesadilla, in cubes
- 1 red or green bell pepper (or half and half), seeded and finely diced
- 1/2 cup finely diced green chiles (if using canned, drain them first)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped white or purple onion
- 1 tablespoon chili powder blend or powdered chile*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
*Chili powder is the seasoning blend used to make chili soup. It generally contains ground chile peppers, cumin, oregano, and perhaps garlic, salt, and some other herb or spice (depending on who is making it). This is a Tex-Mex creation and rarely, if ever, seen in Mexico proper. Powdered chili is merely ground up dried chile peppers and is found in authentic Mexican cuisine. Either of these is acceptable to for this dish, depending on your own preferences and/or what you have on hand. If you are not sure of the spiciness of the powder you are using, start with half the amount mentioned, then add more until you reach your desired degree of piquancy.
- Combine all of the ingredients except the cream in the top pan of a double boiler—or use a slow cooker—and heat gently until the cheese melts completely. (Stir occasionally during this period.) Immediately before serving, stir in the crema or sour cream.
Pour your delicious hot queso dip into one or more serving bowls and serve with totopos (homemade or purchased) or some other kind of tortilla chips.
Tips and Variations on Queso Dip:
Having the cream at or near room temperature when stirring it into cheese mixture will help keep your dip hot. Just take the cream out of the refrigerator before you start working on the other ingredients so that it will have time to warm up a bit.
Trade the diced green chiles for finely sliced roasted poblano peppers. Substitute the bell pepper with canned or frozen corn kernels. Omit the chili powder/powdered chile and Voilá! You have a poblano pepper queso dip.
Why serve this dip only with tortilla chips? There are a lot of other delicious dippers you can try. How about Mexican chicharrones (pork cracklings), either natural (real fried pig’s skin) or commercial (usually wheat-based puffed snack thingies)? Pretzel rods are good, too, as are sliced raw veggies such as mushrooms or zucchini.
Anything used as a dip is usually also good as a sauce. Instead of dipping into your queso, pour it over totopos (instant nachos!) or cooked vegetables for a change. Or why not pour it on a roast beef sandwich to make a queso cheesesteak?