Queso Fundido WARM CHEESE DIP
LITERALLY MEANING “MELTED CHEESE,” Queso Fundido is a widely available appetizer at many restaurants in Mexico as well as in the United States. Many variations use different cheese selections, assorted flavorings, and additions. This version is my own, based on the many I have tasted around Mexico. When you get the hang of this recipe, you can experiment to make your own creations. Queso Fundido goes well with Guacamole (see page 69) and your favorite salsa.
1/2 pound longaniza or chorizo
1/2 pound mushrooms (white button, crimini, shiitake), sliced
Oil for sautéeing
Generous dash of salt
4 leaves fresh epazote, roughly chopped (or 1 to 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano, toasted)
1 or 2 thinly sliced chipotle chiles en adobo (or 1 ancho or guajillo chile, stemmed, seeded, toasted, and cut into thin strips, see page 25)
1 pound cheese (Mennonite, asadero, quesadilla, fontina, or Monterey Jack), shredded
1/2 white onion, cut into long slivers
1. Lightly sauté the longaniza or chorizo in a little oil until cooked through and fat is fully rendered. (If using longaniza or chorizo in a casing, first remove the skin, and then cut into 1/2-inch pieces.) Drain in a strainer and reserve the fat.
2. Sauté the mushrooms on medium-high in the chorizo fat until nicely browned (if the chorizo is lean, you may need a little extra oil for the mushrooms). Add the chorizo, salt, epazote or oregano, and chiles and heat through, mixing well.
3. In a lightly oiled, oven-proof gratin dish, casserole, cast-iron skillet, or other pan (small for individual servings or large for family style), spread half of the cheese, then add an even layer of the mushroom mixture. Top with the remaining cheese, then the onion slivers.
4. Place under a broiler on high or in a 475-degree F oven until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown a little.
5. Serve immediately with warm flour tortillas cut in wedges.
MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS AS AN APPETIZER