For the last few weeks, a What's Cooking reader has been in deep pursuit of a queso dip to make for Super Bowl Sunday. But not any queso - one made without the infamous Velveeta, the Halloween-orange block of the infamous "cheese food" that melts like a dream.
In spite of my trepidation (it was a maiden queso voyage for this cook), I took on the challenge. After much deliberation over what to use as my base (milk, evaporated milk, cream), I decided on the very reliable, full-fat cream, and I have to say, I think I scored a touchdown. The common complaint I hear about queso recipes is that the end result is stringy and clumpy and difficult to reheat.
With a roux (equal parts flour and fat) as my starter, this cream-based cheese sauce stays fluid and clump-free. Have a look and see what you think.
While in the throes of dipping success, I pressed my luck a bit further and tried my hand at an onion dip - without the Lipton's soup mix! The recipe (following the queso) calls for sour cream, just as you remember, but instead of the intensely salted powder in an envelope, I caramelized a bunch of onions, pureed them, and seasoned with savories such as celery seed, dry mustard, cumin and garlic powder. The resemblance to the fake thing is uncanny!
I've got to sign off, as my panel of chip tasters await. Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog, for "The Great Chip-Off," a blind taste test of supermarket potato chips.
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
salt to taste
1-3 canned chiles, diced (add according to taste)
1 plum tomato, diced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
In a medium saucepan, add butter and allow to melt over low heat. Add flour and stir until it is well integrated with butter and mixture is free of lumps. Color will be golden after 1 minute or so.
Add cream and stir to combine, allowing to heat up until thickened, about five minutes. Stir frequently with spoon and do not allow cream to boil. Add cheese, and whisk vigorously until completely integrated and fluid.
Taste for salt and add accordingly. Add chiles, tomato, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne, and stir to combine. Add more seasoning as you see fit.
Serve warm with your favorite chips. Can be reheated, if done gently. Makes nearly 1 quart dip.
Onion Dip, Hold the Soup Mix
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
salt and black pepper (white pepper would be nice here as well, because of its camouflage qualities) to taste
16 ounces sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Using a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil and add onion. Cook over low heat, until onions are soft and caramelized, about 45 minutes. Be careful not to burn onions, as they will yield a bitter result. You may cover onions to speed up cooking, but stand by to stir occasionally.
Season with salt and pepper, and completely cool. Place onions in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until onions are pureed. Spoon out into an airtight container and chill in the fridge for about an hour.
In a mixing bowl, combine sour cream, and the remaining ingredients, plus the chilled onion puree. Stir to thoroughly combine. Taste for the "onion dip" flavor that suits you and add more seasoning accordingly.
Serve immediately with chips or return to fridge until ready to serve. Makes a scant 3 cups dip.
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