Ah, Queso Flameado, I suppose it was just a matter of time until I fell into your delicious clutches. Translated, it means “flamed cheese,” and it often appears on menus as Queso Fundido, too. (Fundido means “melted.”) I don’t think I’ve ever ordered it, however, figuring it was just too sinful to add to what usually promises to be an already indulgent restaurant meal. (I don’t really believe in labeling foods as “sinful” or “bad,” but even I have my limits when comes to rich food.)
I had recently, impulsively, bought a couple nice-looking poblano chilies at Whole Foods, thinking to myself, “I always see these great-sounding recipes that call for fresh poblanos, but I never have them on hand.” I thought I could at least roast and freeze them if nothing else. I used to cook with fresh chilies a lot, but fell out of the habit since I don’t garden anymore and the ones in the local markets often don’t look fresh. I toyed with the idea of making rellenos, but decided I wasn’t up for that big of a project, i.e. battering and almost deep frying. So I browsed through Lisa Fain’s Homesick Texan cookbook, which I had on my Kindle. (Cookbooks on Kindle don’t work that well for me, but it was substantially less expensive that way.)
When I spied her recipe for Queso Flameado, I was struck! I pretty much had all the ingredients except the Jack cheese, including chorizo links in the freezer and sliced muenster in the cheese drawer, so how could I resist? Being really lazy and not in the mood for grating (I know, for shame), I picked up some grated 4-cheese Mexican blend at the market the next day, to go with the muenster, and I was good to go.
I cut the cheese amount at least in half and used a double-handled non-stick Berndes pan, since my cast iron pans were either too big or too small. Since I had two poblanos, double the amount called for, I figured the dish, which I planned on having as my dinner (with a cabbage/radish slaw on the side), would at least have a good dose of green vegetable.
Here’s Fain’s recipe, which I’ve heavily annotated [in bold italics] to clarify what you see in the photo gallery below. I highly recommend this cookbook, which is her first one, based on her blog. I’m sure I’d love her next one, too, the Homesick Texan Family Table, but I just have to draw the line somewhere. Having lived in Aspen, Colorado for so many years, which was full of Texas tourists (whom I grew to love), her Tex-Mex cuisine is right up my alley.
Queso Flameado, from Lisa Fain’s Homesick Texan cookbook
“You just throw some cheese, roasted poblanos, and cooked chorizo into a skillet, heat it up for a few minutes, and soon you have an oozing, satisfying snack or dinner.” [See, she says I can have it for dinner!]
1 poblano chile [I used two.]
¼ pound Mexican chorizo, removed from its casing [Note to self: buy it loose when possible.]
3 cups grated asadero cheese or Muenster cheese (12 ounces)
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)
Tortillas, for serving [I used Trader Joe’s Corn & Wheat tortillas, they’re excellent.]
Roast the poblano chile under the broiler until blackened , about 5 minutes per side. Place chile in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight, and let the chile steam for 20 minutes.
[I roasted my chilies on a stovetop grill I’ve had for years. I treasure that grill, which is not for meats or anything that will drip and cause flare-ups. It is indispensable if you have an electric stove and cook Mexican. (I think I’ve risked blistering eggplant on it too.) I hadn’t used it for ages, and couldn’t find one online, maybe because I forgot the correct name for it. It’s also perfect for heating tortillas, better than warming them in foil, because with the stovetop method – which you can also do in a skillet – they puff up and develop delightful texture. I’m going to keep that grill out on top of the stove for a while, to remind me to use it. Also note, I just covered the blistered chilies with a damp paper towel, since I didn’t have a paper or plastic bag handy.]
Take the chile out of the bag, rub off the skin [not under water, please], remove the stem and seeds, and cut into strips.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Crumble the chorizo into a medium-size cast-iron skillet heated on medium. Cook, occasionally stirring, until it’s lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat; add to the skillet the grated cheeses and poblano chile strips.
Place the skillet into the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until bubbling. Spoon out the melted queso flameado onto tortillas. Serve immediately.
Gallery: You can click on any image to start a slideshow if you like, and if you want to hear the sizzling pan as I removed it from the oven, a 7-second video is at the bottom. Bon appétit!