Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Queso flameado

queso flameado

I know that somewhere in my head there are eloquent words to describe my love of queso flameado, but right now I’m just too tuckered out from work to find them. Yes, I am very fortunate to have a job—I’m not complaining. But perhaps I’d find my staid desk job a bit more invigorating if there was an element of risk involved.

Take my stint as a Mexican restaurant waitress during college. Sure, I worked there mainly for the endless baskets of chips and salsa and after-work margaritas, but I have to admit the occasional opportunity to serve queso flameado had its appeal as well.

Queso flameado, which you might know as queso fundido, is a bubbling dish of melted white cheese, such as Monterey Jack or asadero, that’s mixed with chiles and often chunks of chorizo or strips of fajita meat as well. Unlike its cheesy cousin chile con queso, queso flameado is rich and thick, which makes it awkward for chips but perfect for spooning into a soft, warm tortilla.

poblano chile

The name translates to flaming cheese, though it’s not necessary to set it on fire for the dish to be successful. But try explaining that to the restaurant I worked at in college, which decided that if a customer was going to request something called flaming cheese, well, that was exactly what they’d get.

Whenever someone ordered queso flameado, we servers would jump over the prospect of danger, which definitely made our jobs a bit more thrilling. To create the spectacle, we’d sprinkle Everclear over the already cooked dish and then carry it out to the table. Upon arrival, we’d strike a match and wave it over the queso flameado, which being soaked in high-proof alcohol and all, would light up with blue flames that danced across the cheese making it bubble and hiss. When the inferno had died down, with two spoons we’d place the melted cheese into tortillas, and roll them into soft tacos. It was a fine presentation and one that made the table feel special.

I wish I could say that I set my shirt on fire or that I was such a queso flameado master that people would drive miles to see me set cheese aflame before deftly rolling it into tacos. That would certainly make for a better story, but that didn't happen. Nope, I simply served people their queso flameado, a dish that made them very, very happy. And sometimes creating happiness is the biggest thrill of all.

queso flameado

So on those nights when you’re too tired to cook something fancy, queso flameado is a wonderful dish. You just throw some cheese, roasted poblanos and cooked chorizo into a skillet, heat it up for a few minutes and you have an oozing, satisfying snack or dinner. And sure, if you’re feeling wild you can douse it in alcohol and set it on fire, though that’s not necessary for enjoyment. But don’t worry; even if you skip that dramatic step know that this simple dish will still bring smiles and maybe even applause.

Queso flameado
Ingredients:
3 cups of shredded asadero cheese
1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack
1 poblano chile
1/2 cup of Mexican chorizo

Method:
Heat the poblano chile under the broiler for five minutes on each side or until its blackened. Place the chile in a paper sack, close it and let the chile steam for 15 minutes. After this time, rub off the skin, remove the stem and seeds and cut into strips.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Break up the chorizo and cook it in a skillet until it’s done, about five minutes. Lightly grease a medium-sized cast-iron skillet or a casserole dish and add the cheese. Top with the crumbled, cooked chorizo and poblano strips and cook for 15 minutes or until bubbling.

Spoon out the melted queso flameado onto tortillas. Serve immediately.

Note: If you can’t find asadero cheese, Chihuahua cheese is a good substitute. But if you can’t find it either, then use Muenster. And if you can’t find Mexican chorizo, make your own chorizo—it tastes better anyway!

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69 comments:

Maggie said...

Mmmmm.

eonyc said...

OMG..I loove love loooove queso flameado. Now that I own a cast-iron skillet I am so making this! Gracias!

Deanna said...

Luckily for me my New Year's resolution is long gone so the guilt about making this will be non-existant. And its just in time for the Super Bowl.

tbsamsel said...

You didn't have to say "opa!", either.

Kelly @ EvilShenanigans said...

We make that from time to time and it is always a hit with guests, espically ones from up North. It is great for guests, and makes great sports watching food! Yum! Great picture, BTW. Droolworthy!

Rachael said...

Any food that I get.. er.. have.. to set on fire is fine by me. Plus, poblanos and chorizo could not be bad in any combination.

Have you ever done a whole dinner of flaming food? Now THAT would be a party.

Mary said...

Besides the fact that this looks and sounds delicious (I mean how can you go wrong with those ingredients), what a beautifully written post! I felt like I was sitting in a booth watching you. Table presentations are always cool - like where I live the king of that would be bananas foster - but what an amazing idea for a Mexican restaurant to do. I've never seen that done anywhere, but now I want to!! Fantastically written post Lisa!! I pop by regularly but don't often comment, but I love the dishes you present, and I loved this post so much. Thanks for sharing it.

Gabriela said...

Sounds like superbowl food to me!

Mireya said...

Yummy, cheesy goodness! My mom makes something similar to this, but with cotija.

Pink Panda said...

panda like cheese. panda want to try. sometime.

kkryno said...

Wow! This has comfort food written all over it. :)

Mellissa said...

I just found your site and HOW COOL!! I am an El Paso native, born and raised. I just want to say, way to go! Great site, great info, great pictures! I can't wait to keep up with your site.

Wendy said...

Just last night I saw Rick Bayless make queso flameado on his show, then today I see your recipe. I'm destined to make this dish at home. I wish I had a cool cast iron skillet like yours!

Sathya - said...

Ooo yum! That sounds like something I could devour. I wonder what the best cheese is for me to use in Australia...

Heather said...

Ok. Stumbled upon your site yesterday in my quest to make tortillas for the first time. Mission successful, by the way. I have been reading your blog and got all the way back to May 2007. Whew! I feel like we're friends now, so hi. I'm Heather. Never even been to Texas but I love your writing and will definitely be following your blog.

Carol said...

I live in Houston but somehow I feel a little "homesick" for queso flameado. Must go get Mexican this weekend!

I found you through my brother who lives in San Francisco and is the true homesick Texan in my family. Great post!

EBPitcher said...

Me and my friends call that "heart attack in a bowl", but it's oh, so gooooood!

deceiverofmen said...

i love you for posting this.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Oh I LOVE queso flameado! First time I ever had it, surprisingly, was at a little Tex-Mex place in Houston. Hard to find on most menus here in Dallas, it seems. (I've seen it here more recently, at some of the slightly more authentic taquerias) The idea of digging into this makes my heart melt!

Mary and Jonathan said...

Oh this is so perfect for the weather we've been having in the DC area. I lived in Austin in the 90s and would frequently order this at La Zona Rosa to soak up the many Tecate's or margaritas imbibed earlier in the evening. Love your Blog, your recipes and your writing -

Paul said...

Ah memories! I lived in Dallas for 24 years and had this exact dish served the same way, flaming, then served in tortillas ! Que Bueno!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Maggie--Mmmmm indeed!

Eonyc--A wonderful way to use your new skillet!

Deanna--My New Year's resolutions usually last only a couple of hours. Enjoy!

TBSamsel--Es verdad.

Kelly--Thank you! And you're right, I find that Northerners prefer this to queso.

Rachael--Poblanos and chorizo is a fantastic combination. And I would love a whole dinner of nothing but flaming foods!

Mary--Thank you so much!

Gabriela--It is indeed!

Mireya--That sounds intriguing.

Pink Panda--If you like cheese you'll love this!

KKryno--It's definitely comfort food.

Mellissa--Thank you and welcome!

Wendy--What serendipity! Did he set it on fire?

Sathya--Do you have Muenster? If not, a really, really mild cheddar could work.

Heather--It's very nice to meet you!

Carol--Welcome! And thank you!

EBPitcher--It's pretty decadent but indeed very, very good.

Deceiverofmen--You've only been asking me to write about queso flameado for two years, right? Glad you enjoyed it!

Tasty Eats at Home--That's a shame it's not common in Dallas. They're missing out on a good thing!

Mary and Jonathan--I agree, it's perfect cold-weather fare.

Paul--That's the way it's done!

Anonymous said...

Now you’re speaking my language. I LOVE this dish. Sometimes I find myself ordering all for myself at my favorite Mexican restaurant. Comfort at its finest!

Wendy said...

Lisa,

No, Rick didn't flame his. But he did make it with homemade chorizo, which looked incredibly simple to make. This dish will be on my table this weekend!

Diana's Cocina said...

You are speaking my language. YUM!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--It is indeed!

Wendy--Homemade chorizo is easy to make--here's my recipe for chorizo.

Diana's Cocina--Es mi idioma tambien!

Amy said...

Whenever we decide to have this for dinner, we have to make two. There's always a face stuffing race to make sure we all get enough of this fabulosity.

Kimberly said...

Lisa, that looks like heaven.

YUM ME!

The Monday Through Friday Gourmet said...

This truly makes me so hungry!!! I will be making it tonight!
Thanks for the amazing recipes!

nicole said...

This looks so bubbly delicious! I no longer like to order food that gets set on fire because last summer we ordered Greek Saganaki at this fancy restaurant and the poor guy burned himself! I felt so bad and kept thinking "if only we hadn't ordered that cheese!"

southernmama68 said...

This sounds just like something from a restaurant back in the 90's in San Antonio called "Argentina" on Broadway! DELISH!!!

I wish you had a link to share on FACEBOOK on your site, I know lots of folks that would love your recipes!
Keep up the excellent work!
Terry

SOUTHERNMAMA68 said...

FOUND IT!!! linking to FACEBOOK NOW!!

Karen said...

Oh, my! This looks absolutely wonderful... Mmm, some nice warm tortillas... gotta try this!!

habanerogal said...

This will fit in with my New Years Resolution to eat a different type of cheese every month this year and then blog about it. This is a resolution WORTH keeping

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Amy--Oh, yes. It's very important that there's enough to go around!

Kimberly--Thanks!

Monday through Friday--You're very welcome. Enjoy!

Nicole--Oh, no! Your poor waiter!

Southernmama68--Yay! Thanks for sharing!

Karen--Perfect comfort food for cold days.

Habanerogal--That is a resolution worth keeping!

Anne said...

OMG - I am making this this weekend......Ninfas used to make this years ago and it's incredible....

my spatula said...

poblanos, chorizo AND cheese?! count me in, please.

Janet said...

Army Brat born in San Antonio, 30 years in New York now, and I've been a delighted lurker of yours for about a year now. Wanted to finally thank you for reminding me of the very best aspects of Texas, not just the food (made and loved the King Ranch Chicken Casserole!), but the care you take to respond to posters and your absence of pretension are Texas traits, I believe. So thanks for the great writing and for making me homesick for Texas even after all these years of thinking I didn't miss it at all.

Devon said...

When you put the word oozing and cheese together, you've got some irresistible. I curious how spicy this is. Is it like flaming-get it?

Anonymous said...

I've frequented this blog for several months now, but have never bothered commenting. I can't hold back any longer. Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing all of these great recipes in one place. Every single recipe I've tried has turned out GREAT.
Keep up the good work, please!

Gregg said...

I made this today using equal parts of Muenster and Pepper Jack cheeses, using homemade taco meat in place of Chorizo. Amazing taste and so quick and easy to prepare. Thanks for another terrific recipe, Lisa!

Nobody Puts Mama In A Corner! said...

Oh I want this right NOW!!!! I am right there with ya! A homesick Texan living in Colorado where they DO NOT know how to make Mexican Food!!!!@

janna said...

Best queso flameado: La Fogata in San Antonio. But now that I'm 1000 miles from there, I might just make my own! Thanks!

Katie @ Cozydelicious said...

Oh, this is SO dangerous. My favorite Mexican restaurant has the best queso flameado, and it's a really, really good thing that I now live a few hundred miles away from said restaurant. Because this stuff is addictive. Amazingly addictive. And realizing how easy it is to make myself (which was probably obvious but intentionally overlooked before) well, there ya go - danger! But I so want to make it tonight. Yum!!

Jodie said...

@janna - I agree. La Fogata in San Antonio is the best. I'm 300 miles from there, so I haven't had it in awhile.
Lisa, thanks for the recipe!

Paul Martinez said...

@janna - never ate at La Fogata when I was there. Must put it on the to-do list when I go home again this summer. My personal favorite place to go in SA was always this little hole in the wall called Tejas Cafe off 35 at the O'Connor Rd exit behind the old K Mart. No queso flameado, but the beef enchiladas and breakfast tacos were the best! I also liked Molino Rojo off Nacogdoches between Thousand Oaks and O'Connor for their carne asada tacos. I miss breakfast tacos the most since moving to GA.
@Lisa - there was a restaurant in the town I grew up in long since closed called Adobe Cafe that did the presentation of queso flameado like you described. I LOVED that stuff growing up. Sadly, I'm lactose intolerant now but I do have fond memories. I may do this myself one evening just for kicks, but oh will I suffer later.

laura said...

I think it's scary that I just discovered your blog.. oh yum. Why don't I get as excited over broccoli? There is nothing like cheese. My husband is going to thank you for all of these authentic recipes. Me too.

Mark Scarbrough said...

OK, I'm wondering about it with goat cheese. hmmm. particularly that gjetost, that Norwegian stuff. I know: hardly stuff for a Texan like me, caught in New England. But still, it might be pretty fine. May have to try that.

Kevin said...

This is hthe first that I have heard of queso flameado but it sounds great!!

LuckyTiger said...

Just for the record, "flameado," refers to something that has been treated with flames, or burnt. If you wanted to call something Burning Cheese, you'd say "queso flameante."
/geek

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that this is one of my favorite food blogs out there! I am a Georgian but was raised by my all-Texan family. It was always a source of amusement to my family that I wasn't "native." One of my favorite things about visiting is the first stop. Either my grandams for homemade Tex-Mex or their current mom and pop mexican restaurant. Thank you so much for appreciating the unique food found in Texas! I am living in South Carolina, where Mexican and Tex-Mex do not exist. My friends think I am nuts but I am planning to have a dinner party using lots of your recipes this weekend. I just wanted to thank you and tell you to keep up the good blogging! I will definitely look to here when my grandma won't share her recipes =)

-Lor

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anne--Yep, I've had it at Ninfa's and it is indeed incredible!

My Spatula--Yay! You are in!

Janet--Why thank you!

Devon--I agree, how can you go wrong?

Anon--You're very welcome! And glad you've enjoyed the recipes.

Gregg--Oh, yes! Taco meat is an excellent substitution.

Nobody Puts Mama in a Corner--And you'd think they'd know better in Colorado. Sigh.

Janna--Ah, yes. La Fogata! Such a wonderful place!

Jodie--You're very welcome!

Paul--Oh! I'll have to check out Tejas Cafe next time I'm in SA. And I'm so, so sorry to hear about your lactose intolerance, but is there a pill you can take when you just have to eat cheese? Or what about goat cheese? Isn't it supposed to be more friendly to our sensitive systems? My heart goes out to you!

Laura--Welcome! And know that broccoli can be very good--don't underestimate it!

Mark--I think it would be fab with goat cheese!

Kevin--Enjoy!

Lucky Tiger--Thank you for the clarification.

Lor--Can't wait to hear about your dinner party! And thank you for keeping the Tex-Mex faith!

letsstartsimple said...

i love your blog! it's kind of filled with a lot of my guily (and delicious) pleasures! (;

ultradave said...

THANK YOU LISA! It's freaking FREEZING here in Austin today and this sounds like the perfect sunday snack at home while reading and keeping warm.

Sharona May said...

Oh my that looks very good!

Christina said...

Hot, bubbly cheese? This is worth burning the roof of my mouth for!

Molly said...

Lisa - Your blog rocks my world. I have been reading your postings in silence all the way down here in Atlanta for the last several months. I must say - I get the biggest kick out of you! ALL of your recipes are incredible, but best of all, is your rich stories. You are hysterical! The "flaming cheese" story put me over the edge and I just had to come out of my box to finally say hello! Keep up the awesome work. I am a true admirer and will continue to follow!! Best - Mo

Curious Lissa said...

This looks so great! I'm doing Weight Watchers so anything cheesy is so enticing.

we are never full said...

OH.

hell.

to tha

YES.

it's been awhile fundido, it's been too, too long.

Jimmy V said...

Howdy from Houston! I found your blog googling queso flameado recipes, and I'm so glad I did! Anyhow, I will be making your recipe as the app for my dinner club Friday nite. There are about 10 of us. I'm thinking I should double it. Your thoughts? Also, my smallest cast iron skillet is probably 12" diameter....is that too big?

BTW, love Ninfa's on Navigation. It is great to go before Astros games- they have a shuttle that drops you off right at the ballpark.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Jimmy--I would double the recipe, and if the cheese fills the skillet, it should be fine.

Karen said...

Wow, was this good. I fried up my own corn chips to go with it so I didn't have so much saltiness. I get my tortillas for the Araiza Tortilla Factory in Del Rio, Texas. They make them while you wait from white corn that has been soaked in lime water overnight to soften it. That is it! And they smell wonderful when you open the package. Nothing better!

Screwed Up Texan said...

One of my favorite dishes is Chicken Flameado...MMmm, served with a side bowl of frijoles rancheros the world is perfect for just a moment.

The Fashionable Traveler said...

Yum! Queso Flameado is one of my favorite things! Thanks for the receipt!

Happy Holidays!

Keith West said...

Last weekend I made chiles rellenos with chiles poblanos (they're not supposed to be picante!), and after skinning and seeding 20 chiles, my hands were on fire. I thought the pain would go away after a nice soaking in cold milk but the pain came back immediately after my hands were out of the milk). Luckily, I wasn't having the dinner party that night. After rinsing off the milk, II went on the internet and found the cure...white Colgate toothpaste. Smother your hands in the stuff and sit for about 30 minutes wiggling your fingers in the air, and the pain will go away. Amazing. By the way, the rellenos were delicioso! Love your blog and miss Texas so much!

Mary Keith West (formerly from Houston & Dallas & Austin & New Orleans, but now stuck in Lexington, MA.

Melissa Gibbs said...

Mmmm love Queso Fundido with homemade corn tortillas...this recipe sounds amazing!

Laura said...

Queso is one of the few things about Texas that I truly love. El Arroyo in Austin makes a great one, although they don't light it. We used to go to Cyclone Anaya's in Houston back in the 80's for an awesome Queso Fundido. I'd seen it called Queso Flameado, but never seen it set on fire until we came to Austin last year, & that's how they did it at Pappasito's. They've taken it off the menu, so we don't go there anymore. Thanks for the recipe!
~A Homesick Kansan

Pilar said...

I just made this recipe, delicious!!!!

Ragan Rhodes said...

Just moved to New York and have been preparing by reading your blog. I am STRUGGLING with the lack of tortillas and green chilis around here. Ha! Next time you have a Ninfas night (Carrots and Queso) I expect an invite!

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