I grew up in California and definitely had my share of *awesome* Mexican food before moving away to join the Air Force (side note: Columbus, MS was not exactly overflowing with great Mexican options…).
I had all kinds of yumminess.
One thing I didn’t have? Ever?
Queso. That warm, gooey, slightly spicy, white cheese dip perfect for dipping chips or covering food.
I don’t know, maybe it existed, maybe I just never thought to order it, maybe I’m the only one on Earth that wasn’t smothering their chips and food in cheese dip. For all I know the rest of California was literally swimming in the stuff…but I definitely was not.
No, my first experience with queso- the dip, not cheese in general- didn’t occur until I got to the South.
Queso is ubiquitous in this part of the country; I honestly don’t believe I’ve been to a Mexican restaurant and not had queso in the past 13 years! Personally I prefer a killer salsa to queso any day- lol my parents have a story they love to tell about me eating a bowl of salsa with a spoon when I was like 3- but my family? Oh boy are they queso lovers. A bowl of queso doesn’t stand a chance in the presence of my husband and daughter.
For a long time queso cravings have been the sole reason we’ve spent too much money on sub-par Mexican food rather than cooking at home. My husband would send me a text asking to have Mexican for dinner…I would counter with an offer to make it at home…and he would come back with “but I want queso, I’m craving queso…”
1 pound white, deli-sliced American cheese
⅔ cup of milk or half-and-half
3-4 tablespoons of canned, chopped green chiles or jalepenos
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
How to make it :
If using a slow cooker, turn on to the lowest setting. Dump everything in, heat and stir until thickened.
If using a double boiler, heat the milk, chopped chiles and spices, then gradually add in the American cheese, 1-2 slices at a time, stirring until fully melted and incorporated together.