Queso Blanco Dip

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I know Los Angeles is supposed to be one of the best places in the States to get Mexican food, but I have to admit: my favorite Mexican restaurant ever is back in Georgia.  Frontera Mex-Mex holds so many memories of family, friends and teachers for me (The Boyfriend ate a 2 pound monster burrito there last Christmas so that he could get a free t-shirt for me.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is) but if it wasn’t for the food, none of us would keep going back as often as we did.  One of the most popular items on the menu was their cheese dip, which was white and creamy, went perfectly with their salsa, and had jalapenos in it upon request.  Many an evening I spent trying to recreate this recipe, one which involved me, just diagnosed with bronchitis, going out into the freezing windy icy middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania winter to the Walmart close to campus to go get cheese.  That’s how amazing this stuff is: you risk death just to taste it.  The only problem is, it was practically impossible to recreate.  I tried fancy Mexican cheeses like queso fresca, because it looked white like what they had at Frontera and it was Mexican, so how could it go wrong?  Turns out queso fresca doesn’t actually melt, so that trip turned out to be a bust, only one of many busts to come.

In the end, I finally went home to Georgia for Christmas and just ASKED the staff at Frontera what was in their cheese dip.  Would you believe the greatest cheese dip in all the world from the greatest Mexican restaurant in all the world (okay, that fact is admittedly debatable) is actually made from plain old white American cheese!?  I got over that shocker of a fact quickly and just headed to the nearest store.  Note: you’ll have to go to the deli to get the white American cheese; my deli lady just sliced it into normal sandwich slices (so she could weigh it properly) and I just finely diced it when I got home instead of shredding it.

Upon tasting, I nearly passed out in front of the stove.  This was it!  And now if only I can get Frontera to ship over a burrito al carbon, I’d be a happy happy girl.  (I’m also going to be a fat girl soon-this weekend I’ve been requested to make my other, more famous and more unhealthy queso dip recipe, the one that involves Velveeta.  This recipe will make it on the blog eventually but I’ll let you work on burning off the calories in this one first, okay?)

Queso Blanco
Serves a group of about 4
Adapted from Annie’s Eats and Confessions of a Foodie Bride

  • 1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
  • 12 oz white American cheese, shredded or chopped
  • 4 oz Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4-3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tomato, seeded and finely diced
  1. Heat oil in pan and saute the jalapeno pepper over medium heat until softened.  CAUTION: have windows open or a fan on when you do this.  I was coughing and choking from the spicy vapors in the air and then The Boyfriend rang the doorbell and I opened the door and he started immediately choking too.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the cheeses and 1/4 cup milk to the pan.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon until almost fully melted, then add the tomato and continue stirring.
  4. Add milk until you’ve reached the desired texture.  I remember the cheese dip being pretty fluid, so I kept adding milk, but once I’d added a bit too much, it lost the creamy cheese flavor, so don’t add more than an extra half cup or so.
  5. Garnish with tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and raw jalapeno, if you dare; watch it disappear in almost no time! (especially since it’s football season, right?)


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