Birthday party tonight was enjoyable. I promised everyone Texas-style snacks, so that’s what we had: chips with salsas, guacamole, refried beans, and queso. Oh, how I’d missed queso. I made it Brad-style, with habaneros, since I figured that it would be nice to have at least one dish that was spicy, and the mildness of the cheese tempered the habaneros’ heat very nicely. It turned out well, so here’s the recipe; the fruity notes from the habanero had my fellow Texan puzzled but pleased. No pictures this time, sorry, though I do have a different picture post in the making.
Now off to eat leftover chips and queso. Like the best Thai food, you know queso’s perfect when it’s so spicy that each bite is pain, but so smooth and cheesy that you can’t stop yourself from eating just one more.
Brad’s Habanero Queso
Warning: Habaneros are extremely high in capsaicin, the active ingredient in pepper spray. Anything that touches habenero juice, even second-hand, will cause painful burns if it’s exposed to a mucous membrane (like your eyes). When cutting up habaneros, if at all possible, wear gloves and cut on a disposable surface. If you don’t have gloves, wash your hands immediately afterwards, don’t touch your eyes for a while, and don’t be surprised when your hands start stinging in an hour or two.
1 T oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 habenero peppers, seeds and veins removed, finely diced (Can substitute 3-6 jalapenos.)
2 12-oz packets of American cheese, cubed
Note on the cheese: I like to use one white and one orange, because I like my queso a mild yellow. Deluxe deli American cheese is good here, but the cheap kind is okay. 24 oz. of Velveeta would be fine too. Do not try to substitute real cheese; it doesn’t have the same melting and texture qualities.
1-2 cups milk
salt to taste, if necessary
Heat the oil and saute all the vegetables until completely soft and cooked. Add the cheese and 1/2 cup of the milk; stir until the cheese is melted. Add more milk until desired texture is reached. Simmer to meld the flavors. The queso should be a relatively thin sauce when it’s hot on the stove, thick but still slightly liquid when room-temperature.
Serve warm with tortilla chips for dipping.