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'Tis the season for cheesy skillets of queso fundido

  • Author: Kim Sunée
  • Updated: February 4, 2017
  • Published February 4, 2017

Queso fundido with chilies (Photo by Kim Sunée)

Wings and dips and spreads in bowls. Basically, food that no one has to think about that they can shove in their mouths, preferably with hands, so as not to distract from the football game or commercials. Usually not the kind of cooking I get excited about.

But, to be fair, I've just sent off a manuscript for my next book to the publisher and am happy to not test recipes and just cook whatever feels good in the moment. That moment happens to be the Super Bowl and, because I'm already in too deep, I ask what everyone wants to eat on Sunday.

So far on the request list: "Your homemade fried chicken!" "Loaded nachos!" "Hot homemade pretzels! Beignets! Gumbo!" Why no one requests vegetables in any form is a bit deflating. But, I'll sneak a few into this queso fundido — a big skillet bubbling with cheese and spiked with chilies. Since I'm already deep in oil for chicken, I'll also fry up a ton of tortillas to serve with the queso, as well as fresh soft tortillas to wrap the cheese in.

I like to garnish with something fresh to cut through all the richness, so usually I sprinkle some pomegranate arils or make a chunky pico de gallo or top it with radish slices. For a meatier version, you could always add some ground chorizo, beef, pulled pork or roasted chicken while sautéeing the onion.

Queso fundido

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow or white onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 poblano, stem and seeds removed, diced and/or 1 (4-ounce) can roasted green chilies

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 fresh shiitake or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced (optional)

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder

7 to 10 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

7 to 10 ounces shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese blend

Garnishes: Fresh chopped cilantro; sliced green onion; sliced jalapeño; pomegranate arils; sour cream

Fresh warm tortillas or tortilla chips, for serving

Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof (8- to 10-inch) skillet, such as a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, over high heat. Add the onion and poblano; cook, stirring often, until the onions and poblano are softened and blistered in some place, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chili powder and if using canned roasted chilies, add after the onion cooks for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water or broth to help "steam" and soften the vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium, stir, and keep cooking until the onion and pepper are softened, another 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, if using, the salt and stir to combine.

Heat the oven to broil (high). Add the cheeses to the skillet and stir just to combine. Let the cheese melt about 1 minute. Place the skillet in the oven and broil on high until the cheese is golden and bubbling on top, about 5 minutes. Garnish and serve with warm tortillas and/or tortilla chips.

Kim Sunée is the best-selling author of "Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home" and "A Mouthful of Stars." For more food and travel, visit kimsunee.com and instagram/kimsunee.

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