queso fundido with roasted poblano vinaigrette

Are you ready for Cinco de Mayo?  Impress your friends with this over-the-top pan of creamy deliciousness.  I have a confession to make.  Until recently, I could honestly say that I didn’t really care for Mexican food.  Don’t get me wrong …the occasional quesadilla or cheesy queso dip was enticing.  And who can resist those shrimp cups?  But really, all that talk of peppers and spicy sauces just didn’t do it for me.

Then I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone.  I made the commitment to post nothing but Tex-Mex recipes for the two weeks prior to Cinco de Mayo.  I thought it would be fun and timely for you.  As it turns out, it was more than fun for me.  It was eye-opening.  Who knew fish tacos could be so darn delicious?  Or that roasted poblanos had so much flavor without being on-fire hot?  I plan to venture out on this path again at some point …you know, the one where it all may be a bit unfamiliar.  Maybe the next destination should be Thai food.  Or perhaps Brazilian.  Then there’s always Cuban.  Who knows.  I’ll keep you posted as I go.

For now, let’s talk about this queso dip.  It is delicious.  It is not complicated.  And the final product is impressive.  It is from Bobby Flay’s MESA Grill cookbook.  OMG, this cookbook!  My daughter, Jennifer, lent me her copy and after looking through it for maybe thirty minutes …I was hooked.  I knew I had to get my own copy.

I followed this recipe to the letter.  The one thing I want to stress is that you can easily change this up.  There are lots of folks out there who don’t care for goat cheese.  There’s a substantial amount of goat cheese in this one.  You could easily reduce the amount or substitute with another soft cheese such as feta, camembert or mozzarella.  If you want a little more kick, consider using a Mexican blend of shredded cheese instead of the Monterey Jack variety.  Time to move on to the star of this show.  The roasted poblano vinaigrette.

Get the peppers in the oven to roast.  They don’t take long but it’s good to get the process started so you can prepare the vinaigrette …early in the day is perfect.  Give it some time to develop the full flavor.

The instructions for this dressing will direct you to use your blender or food processor.  Since you’re making a small amount, 3/4 cup to be exact, a mini processor does the job.  I used my Cuisinart Mini-Prep and it was effortless.  Store the prepared vinaigrette in the refrigerator in a covered container.  If you have one of those plastic squeeze bottles, that’s perfect.  That way when the time comes, you can easily apply the perfect amount of deliciousness.

And you won’t use all of the dressing for your queso dip.  Imagine some slathered on your next serving of grilled chicken.  How about on your grilled shrimp?  I’ll be trying that, for sure.

Pulling the queso dip together is a fairly quick process.  Be sure to have your cheese grated and handy.  You probably noticed that I used a cast iron pan for the entire process.  It goes right from the stovetop to the oven …then onto your serving tray (with a pad underneath, of course) for a beautiful rustic presentation.  If you don’t have a small cast iron pan, that’s fine.  Use any medium sized saucepan on the stovetop.  Then, after you’ve mixed in the Monterey Jack cheese, transfer to an ovenproof serving dish. Top off with the goat cheese slices and finish it off under the broiler.

Have your serving tray set up with your favorite chips …goes especially well with corn chips.  And you can’t go wrong with offering some fresh tomato and cilantro.  Or your favorite salsa.  This must be served fresh from the oven.  The cheese will be creamy and perfectly melted, topped off with a toasty layer of goodness. Generously garnish with the roasted poblano vinaigrette and fresh cilantro.

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queso fundido with roasted poblano vinaigrette


From Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill

Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

ROASTED POBLANO VINAIGRETTE

  • 2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

QUESO FUNDIDO

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups monterey jack cheese, grated (12 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 8 slices
  • Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • one 9-ounce bag good quality tortilla chips

Instructions

ROASTED POBLANO VINAIGRETTE

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Brush peppers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place in the oven on a rimmed baking sheet.  Rotate until charred on all sides, about 15 to 17 minutes.  Remove from oven and place roasted chile peppers in a bowl, covered tightly with plastic wrap.  Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the skin to loosen.  Peel and halve each chile pepper.  Remove seeds and chop roughly.

  2. Place the chopped poblanos, along with the remaining ingredients, in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  This can be made up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated.

QUESO FUNDIDO

  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. Melt butter in an 8-inch cast iron pan over medium heat.  (If not using a cast iron pan, see NOTE below.)  Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened.  Remove pan from heat and season with the salt and pepper.  Stir in the grated Monterey Jack cheese.  Evenly place the slices of goat cheese over the top.

  3. Place the pan under the broiler and broil until cheese is golden brown on top.  Remove from oven.  Immediately drizzle with the poblano vinaigrette or spoon it over the top.  Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro.  Serve with chips for dipping.

  4. NOTE:  If you don't have a small cast iron pan, use a medium sized saucepan on the stovetop. After mixing in the Monterey Jack cheese, transfer to an ovenproof serving dish and top with goat cheese slices. Proceed as directed.

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