Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Day queso compuesto

new-year-queso_compuesto

A year or so ago, I was visiting Texas in August and stopped by my grandma’s farm to say howdy. She asked if I was hungry, as she’d just cooked up a pot of black-eyed peas. How could I refuse? We sat down at the table and ate big bowls of the freshly picked peas along with Swiss chard cooked with bacon and warm cornbread slathered in butter. It was a fine late-summer feast using up the bounty of her garden.

Now, this time of year people start thinking more about black-eyed peas, greens and pork as they’re required eating for good fortune in the New Year. A meal such as the one I shared with my grandma would not be out of place on New Year’s Day. But these foods for us are an essential part of life and we eat them all year long, not just on January 1.

This isn’t to say, however, that I won’t be having black-eyed peas, greens and pork on Sunday. But I like to take a little license with these ingredients and take them on a journey to a new place.

new-year-queso_compuesto black-eyed peas, jalapeno

And that’s how I arrived at my New Year’s Day queso compuesto.

The last time I was dipping into a queso compuesto, I asked myself, “What would this taste like with Mexican chorizo, black-eyed peas and collard greens?” Was it kind of crazy or kind of good? I decided to find out.

For those of you wondering what the heck is queso compuesto, let me explain. Queso the dish is melted cheese mixed with chiles—hence it’s official name, chile con queso. (The word "queso in Spanish means cheese.) In Texas, this melted cheese is usually of the yellow processed variety, though sometimes we make queso with non-processed cheese instead. Queso compuesto then takes this bowl of queso and makes it better by adding stuff such as taco meat, refried beans, guacamole and pico de gallo. It’s one outrageous dip.

Now, melted cheese goes with just about anything savory. And earthy black-eyed peas, smoky collard greens and spicy Mexican chorizo are good friends, too. But for some reason I worried that combining these three with melted cheese would be a bit much. I shouldn’t have—this dip lasted about a minute and even people who think they don’t like black-eyed peas couldn’t get enough.

Of course, if you’re not a fan of black-eyed peas, chorizo or collards, you can make endless substitutions—though I have to say that it is fun combining Southern comfort with Tex-Mex, plus I guarantee that your guests will be very impressed with this twist on a classic.

new-year-queso_compuesto

This queso compuesto might just be my new favorite way to begin a new year, especially if you’re gathering with friends and family and want something to keep them occupied while you work on the main meal. And sure, it may be a little decadent and go against those resolutions, but don’t worry—salads and soups will still be around on January 2.

Happy New Year! May your 2012 be filled with lots of love and joy.

New Year’s Day queso compuesto
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, removed from any casing
1/4 medium onion, diced
6 roasted jalapeños, seeds and stems removed, diced
2 cups cooked collard greens, drained and finely chopped
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas, drained or one 15-ounce can of black-eyed peas, drained
8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
4 cups shredded Muenster (16 ounces)
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon lime juice (optional)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
Tortilla chips

Method:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large oven-proof skillet, such as a cast iron skillet, heat the oil on medium low and add the Mexican chorizo and onion. While stirring occasionally to break up any large chunks of chorizo, cook until the chorizo and onions are cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and if you like, drain off any excess grease.

Stir into the skillet the diced jalapeños, black-eyed peas and collard greens. Evenly distribute on top the cubed cream cheese and shredded Muenster then pour in the half-and-half. Bake uncovered until the cheese is bubbling, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently stir to combine everything. If you’d like a little tang, you can squeeze in some lime juice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and add salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips

Yield: 8 servings

Note: To roast the jalapeños, place under the broiler for 10 minutes until blackened, turning once. To keep the dip warm, you can place on a chafing dish, in a slow cooker or in a fondue pot.

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58 comments:

Sarah said...

YES!! Although I have to admit I have a soft spot for my old Texas Velveeta and Rotel... This recipe is much more in line with my New Year's resolutions. Thanks!

kale @ tastes good to me! said...

I just have a question. You said "Queso, as we all know, is melted cheese mixed with chiles". But I have always understood "queso" to be the Spanish word for "cheese", whatever kind of cheese it may be. Is the Queso you refer to the name of a dish in Texas? I hope my question makes sense! (p.s. love this dish and love the cast iron presentation!) :)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Sarah--I also still have a soft spot for Rotel and Velveeta. It's a classic!

Kale--Yes, queso does mean cheese in Spanish. I was referring to the dish called queso. I'll clarify that in the text.

racingyogagirl said...

Hi to my fellow Lisa & fellow Texan,
I received your beautiful cookbook for Christmas and am wondering how I can go about getting a signed bookplate for it? I have followed your blog for quite some time and was so excited when the book came out! Your family's taste & ours is very similar!

kale @ tastes good to me! said...

Oh! OK I'd never heard of a dish called queso. Thank you!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Racingyogagirl--Send me an email with your address and I'll send you one. So pleased you like the cookbook!

Kale--Thanks for asking the question!

Rosemary said...

I am definitely intrigued. My people think I'm weird for always experimenting with food. (So far, so good, though.) And I love this experiment. Could very well indeed find its way to my NY Eve spread.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Rosemary--If you try it, enjoy!

gremm said...

This will definitely be on our menu for New Years! Your Corn Chowder with Roasted Jalapenos and Bacon from your cookbook was THE hit at our Christmas Day lunch. Thanks for your recipes and book!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Gremm--You're very welcome! And I'm so happy to hear the chowder was a hit. It's definitely one of my favorites.

Christie said...

This is going to be a new New Years Tradition in our house... Thanks for taste of back home!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Christie--You're very welcome! Happy New Year!

Jo said...

I think I'm in love! Ha. This sounds SO yummy ~ I'll be making it this weekend ~ can't wait. Thanks for sharing ~ Jo

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Jo--You're very welcome. Enjoy!

Tara said...

Mmmm! I experiment with food a lot but would NEVER have thought to combine blackeyed peas with queso. Sounds like we'll be doubling up on the blackeyes - with ham and cornbread on New Year's Eve, then this dish the following day. Does that mean we'll be extra fortunate? I love your book too. I got it for my mom (a recent Texas to CA transplant) and was hoping to get it for Christmas myself but didn't. Guess I'll have to take matters into my own hands!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Tara--I do believe that means you'll be extra fortunate!

Novelismo said...

Thank you ... This looks great. In Virginia, we usually eat the black-eyed peas stewed with pork, a few chopped onions or shallots and garlic, accompanied by rather sweet stewed tomatoes, cooked down pretty thick, and chopped but not pureed. The tomatoes benefit from being stewed together with some ancho chiles -- seeds and stems removed, and the flesh taken off the skins and mashed up. Maybe the "Prosperity Ensues" notion about eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day derives from the same source as the old Swiss idea that "You can't be REALLY unhappy if you're eating spaghetti." (In other words, if you have some food on the table.)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Novelismo--Your stew sounds wonderful! I'll have to try that sometime.

Christi said...

OMG thanks for a new twist on queso. I live in Los Angeles now and we've yet to find a single mexican restaurant that serves queso. No one here even knows what it is even though they sell it in the grocery store! lol Anyway - this sounds great!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Christi--We have that problem in NY, too.

Cynthia said...

any suggestions for how to cook the collards?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Cynthia--Here's my collard green recipe.

sportsglutton said...

This sounds absolutely phenomenal, even to a none collard green lover. Great job and Happy New Years to you as well.

USmonzu said...

"Combining southern comfort with Tex-Mex..." Might I suggest "zest"? Love your blog and your book, I've done about 10 recipes out of it so far, and hope to "cook the book" in its entirety by the end of 2012. My collection of cooking tomes is large, and yours was easily my favorite of 2011. Well done! Good health and further good fortune to you in 2012.

larks & japes said...

perfect!
nice to see an alternative to the rotel/velveeta recipe (no matter how good that is!)

Helen said...

Greetings and Happy New Year to all!

I recently found your blog Lisa and am very happy as a former east Texan to see some of the ways which you've found to "crack the Tex Mex code" as you put it so well. Especially the chili gravy recipe for enchiladas for example, and simple refried beans which I never thought in a google of years I'd become a serious student of as I calibrated the flavors at home. I applaud your guac as a trace of dairy in the green confection doesn't pass the sniff test (for me) and of course the "no beans" chili policy is a solemnity which must be spread far and wide. : ) I do take issue with your ceviche recipe, but not too much because you did call it "Pickled Shrimp" in the end. Ceviche is a thing of delight which begins with slices of raw white fish that become cooked in the lime juice - no other boiling or cooking method is applied. I learned to make this in Austin from a wonderful and high powered lady lawyer - and you don't get more Texan than that gal! If you'd like me to dig it out I'll share it with you gladly.

I have had to become a very determined and inventive Tex Mex cook as I live half a world away now on a remote island that barely grows chilis (hothouse only), has no corn tortillas in the stores whatsoever, a bag of 4 limes costs $10 if you can even get one, and where the locals think regular olives out of a jar are too "spicy".

Here a fake Tex Mex meal costs upwards of $100 for two, again, if you can even get that. If you order "tacos" you will get to pay $18 dollars a naked plate for a couple of large warmish soft tortillas folded over iceburg lettuce chunks, some slivers of baked unspiced chicken, a tomato slice, a desultory sprinkle of cold shredded local white cheese and that is IT. NO rice, NO beans, NO fresh salsa and never ever in an aeon of tears will you get a free basket of chips as you sit down. If you order chips as an $8 appetizer, they open a bag of cheese FLAVORED dorito-like bag chips and put a few cold on a plate. There may be a previously unopened bottle of habanero sauce on the table strictly for looks. As far as Tex Mex or even Mex goes, my life is one long slipshod vaudeville show and I'd be better off on Uranus. Pun intended.

So I cook any and all of our Tex Mex at home, and get dried chilis smuggled through to me in the mail (possibly banned as overseas produce, I'm not sure and I ain't asking). I have two precious cans of 99 Cent Store Enchilada sauce brought back from the US which I must use to taste test until I can replicate the flavor with what I've got here. My in laws send me canned queso sometimes and it is more precious to me than local Artisan Anything.

If anyone wants to make a small fortune and immigrate to New Zealand to set up a Tex Mex place, I'm game. Although the locals aren't used to chilis, they do love Indian food and the younger generation is much more appreciative of flavors of the world. There are also a LOT Of US tourists here who miss their "Mexican" food. I've even managed to source local small fresh green and HOT chilis from the Indian store lately so things are looking up!

In the meantime, I'll keep adapting recipes finding and learning the old tricks, and I've bookmarked this site and really look forward to enjoying the offerings here and especially the company in 2012.

By the way, today's recipe got me thinking, what is the difference between Queso Flameado, Queso Compuesto and Queso Fundido? After poking around a bit, it seems that they are just different ways of saying essentially the same thing. Any thoughts?

Signed,

The Expat Texan

The Cozy Herbivore said...

I LOVE the tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Years. And what a great way to incorporate this tradition into a delicious dish! Beautiful pictures, can't wait to try this...

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Sportsglutton--Of course, if you don't like collards you could leave them out or substitute spinach.

USmonzu--Thank you, I'm glad you're having fun cooking from it! Happy New Year!

Larks--Sometimes it's good to switch it up.

Heather--Howdy! In answer to your question, fundido and flameado are more or less the same--thick and better with tortillas, while queso compuesto has a thinner cheese base that works well with chips.

Cozy Herbivore--It's one of my favorite traditions, too!

Sarah said...

This looks so fantastic! I love making queso and this looks like a great change of pace from the usual recipe. I'd be making it for New Year's if I hadn't already planned a menu and bought groceries. We'll have to do a snacks for supper night again soon and try this.

The Galley Gourmet said...

Although I already have black-eyed peas and collards in other forms on our Sunday menu, I certainly won't be waiting a whole year to make this dish. It sounds perfect! Happy New Year!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

My family doesn't like black eyed peas, but I love them and always make them on New Year's Day. I'm going to give this a whirl this year and see if I can get a few of them converted to eating black eyed peas!!

Anonymous said...

A quick question on the collards, how long do you cook them before adding them to the recipe?

Beverly

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Sarah--It's good anytime!

The Galley Gourmet--Happy New Year to you, too!

Rocky Mountain Woman--They will be surprised at how good black-eyed peas can be!

Beverly--An hour and a half.

Kevin said...

This sounds really good!

Megan said...

Eating this right now...it's the best thing I've ever had. Never would've thought to put these ingredients together, so I can't thank you enough!

Karen Elizabeth said...

Oh my, I just finished this recipe. All I can say is AWESOME! Thank you, a perfect dish for our New Years game day. Thank you Lisa and a happy new year from Texas!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kevin--Indeed it is!

Megan--Game day was exactly what I had in mind when I made it. So pleased y'all are enjoying it! Happy New Year!

Karen Elizabeth--You're very welcome--I'm so thrilled that y'all loved it. Happy New Year!

charlee said...

Quick question - how is the dip in the picture so yellow, when cream cheese and munster are white? Should I be using velveeta or cheddar? What makes the picture so yellow?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Charlee--The chorizo turned it that color, I think!

Duncan said...

Hi Lisa,

Your book should be here from Amazon on Tuesday, I can hardly wait.

I like my black-eyed peas mashed in a skillet with salt pork and lots of pepper.

Have a wonderful New Year...

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Lisa I know you have always loved black eyed peas but I have never loved them (found them mealy) until yesterday. I boiled some fresh ones and mixed them with cream cheese, spinach, peppers and sautéed onions. They are my new favorite food - and my husband's too. Now time to take on all your recipes for them. Woo too! Happy New Year!

Shelley said...

Love this spicy blog, but so many older or ill people can't do the spicy.

I'd love to see a non-spicy "comfort food" recipe here.

Marlu said...

I just bought your book and love it. I'll be giving it to my son who lives in Jersey City and works in Manhattan. He also can't find the foods he grew up with. He and his fiancée came to TX to visit and she loved our TX MEX food and fell in love with Mexican Pan Dulce. No place like Texas that's for sure!

Betsey said...

Hi Miss Lisa! Your book has captured my imagination. I had so much fun making corn tortillas for the first time last night. I blogged about the experience here: http://betseyclaire.blogspot.com/2012/01/homemade-corn-tortillas.html

My family also enjoyed this delicious dip (prepared by my mom) on New Year's Day. Happy New Year from Arkansas. More Tex-Mex in 2012!

Olivia said...

My old neighbors in The Woodlands, Texas, sent me your cookbook for Christmas! I guess they remembered I was missing some Texas flavors since leaving that great state. But I never told her I used to read your blog (back when I lived in London and blogged as Artmeliana). Of all the Texan cookbooks she could have picked, I am so glad it was yours, and I can't wait to start experimenting with those amazing recipes! For sure, some of these ingredients are easier to find in Maryland than they ever could be in London!

Monica said...

I made this dip for New Year's day and it was fabulous. Thanks for Sharing. Happy 2012 Monica from Loveland Colorado

BenInWaco said...

Do you have any suggestions on how to buy the right chorizo? The stuff I bought one time turned to greasy mush when I cooked it, like Wolf-brand chili mush. I live Deepinnaharta, so I've got plenty of selection... I just don't have a clue how to pick it!

Kimberly Bishop said...

sounds really good. I must try it.

Elizabeth Scheller said...

I made this (used hamburger instead of chorizo) and took it to work for my coworkers to enjoy. They reminded me of Hilly eating Minnie's Chocolate Pie....they didn't know what was in it but they LOVED it! I did eventually share your recipe with them. They thought I had spinach in it. They were amazed that it was collards! This is definately a favorite and I'll make it again!

rob said...

howdy. living in DUMBO and for years now I have not been able to find Mexican chorizo in Brooklyn or Manhattan. Any hints?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Duncan--Have fun with the cookbook!

Miss Meat and Potatoes--Aren't black-eyed peas the best? So glad you finally grew to love them!

Shelley--You could eliminate the jalapenos, though this isn't very spicy.

Marlu--That is the truth!

Betsey--Yes! More Tex-Mex in 2012!

Olivia--Good to see you again and I'm so pleased you got a copy of my book. Happy cooking!

Monica--You're very welcome. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Ben--I usually make my own chorizo (there's a link in the ingredients to my recipe). If you're going with store bought, read the ingredients and try to pick one that doesn't have weird stuff in it, such as lymph nodes.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kimberly--Enjoy!

Elizabeth--Thanks for sharing with your coworkers! I'm glad they enjoyed it!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Rob--I make my own chorizo and there's a link to my recipe up in the ingredient list. You can also find it at most Mexican grocers.

serena said...

Lisa! You're a genius! Made the Breakfast Rellenos from your cookbook this morning and they were fantabulous. Your Brisket Tacos Dallas Style have become a regular recipe at our house and the rellenos are sure to be, as well. My hat's off to 'ya, gal!

t.turney said...

I made this for a few friends on New Year's and it was such a hit! I love sharing the traditions of Texas food with my friends in the NW. From one homesick Texan to another, you have made my life better-Thank you!
Cheers!

Eleanor said...

Did you use a 12 inch cast iron or a 10 inch? I have both... trying to make this this weekend for my brothers birthday (yes i realize it is august but the flavors sound so amazing!)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Eleanor--It's a 10-inch skillet.

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