So you know those times you enter into a queso cook off before your brain catches up to remind you that:
a) You are not a professional chef, you are a stay at home mom with too much time…
b) You have NEVER done anything like this, and…
c) Why? Just why are we doing this? Well the answer is cheesy; (pun intended) life is short and cheddar makes it better!
Over the last month, I have made queso at least once a week, and tried every possible ingredient: cream cheese, butter, beer, sour cream and many MANY variations and combinations. I kept coming back to my basic recipe I have been making for years. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a Texas gal and I love a good Velveeta-base queso, but in terms of being a purest, Velveeta is Velveeta and to get depth in flavor can only be delivered by the real C.C. (Cheddar Cheese!)
Typically I am not a competitive person. If we are running a race, playing ANY sport with a ball, or even playing trivia, you probably don't want me on your team. However, if we are doing something that I’m good-ish at… GAME ON! That being said, there were two categories in this particular queso competition - overall theme and best queso. We came to win, so on top of having an awesome recipe, we decided to glam it up and go with a David Bowie rocker theme... because why not?
So how did it go you ask? I had to make more queso than I have EVER made in my life! Two gallons worth of cheesy goodness! I started the day before the cookout shredding cheese. Now, before you tell me there is this thing called pre-shredded cheese available, I know. I think when you shred it yourself, the texture is better and it melts more evenly. Just one of my weird things.
My first batch had some problems to say the least. My math was off when making more than double of the below recipe (ok I didn't do the math, I just winged it). However, I did learn that when working with real cheese, the cheese can separate. Who knew? I turned my heat off so it would not burn and turned to google. From what I read, I needed a binder FAST in order to recombine the separated layers. Options listed were American cheese (the kind you have to take the plastic off piece by piece), mustard powder, and cornstarch. Now if I was making a queso to put over veggies I'm sure the mustard is awesome, but not for chips. So i went with corn starch. It worked, however the consistency was more grainy than I would have liked, so I started over.
Working much slower the second time and paying attention to the proportions it turned out its usual cheesy goodness. The contest was fun, I am going to say we got third for most creative theme (David Bowie) however; they only announced 1st place. And as far as the queso goes, we ran out of our queso first out of everyone there with similar starting amounts. I think that speaks volumes to how amazing this cheddar is!
Ok let's get cheesy with it!
8 oz Sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz Pepper Jack cheese
8 oz Cream cheese (room temp)
½ tbs Chili powder
½ tbs Garlic salt
1 tsp Chipotle Chili Pepper
¼-¾ cup Whole Milk
10 oz of Onions, Red and Green Peppers chopped (or a can of Rotel drained)
Salt and Pepper to taste (about ¼ tsp each)
Combine the cream cheese, veggies, cheddar, and pepper jack in a medium saucepan over low heat. LOW heat is the key, as is stirring often! Once it’s all melted, start adding the milk until you reach the desired consistency. Add spices and taste test to perfection.
Serve it up! Best if served immediately.
Add a few drops of Tabasco or sriracha if you are looking to amp up the heat. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and Jalapeño... and to make it glam rock queso, you can't forget the edible glitter!