Everyone can thank my friend Nikki for this recipe. I never planned to count this one, just make it for the family because I earned it this past weekend (which included, in no particular order, blood, sweat, AND tears). In a text, I sent Nikki this picture with a message something like “How many times have I yelled at the kids today? Queso dip many times.” She has small (ADORABLE) kids and I never expect a quick reply but this one was immediate: “That’s for the blog, yes?” Soooooo, here you go.
Having grown up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, caring who wins the Super Bowl is not something that I have ever experienced. What I have always known, however, is that Super Bowl Sunday is the great American excuse to eat all the junk food that “we don’t keep in our house.” I’ve never had an alcohol hangover on Super Bowl Monday, but food hangovers reach back to my childhood. Something my mom always made was a Velvet-based dip I always knew as “Ro-Tel”. At some point I learned that this food is actually known as queso dip or any number of names and that Ro-Tel is simply the brand of one of the two ingredients in my mom’s recipe: Mexican Velveeta and … boom.
I’ve toyed with the method over the years, using plain Velveeta when unable to find the Mexican variety (which contains hot peppers), draining the Ro-Tel for a thicker dip, adjusting the block/can ratio, but I never added to it.
I found an intriguing recipe for Queso Fundido in a magazine (Cook’s Country, not surprisingly) that used REAL CHEESE instead of pasteurized processed cheese food products. Reading on, I also discovered that it required a tedious choreography of grating, seeding, dicing, chopping, and stirring, and my enthusiasm deflated. However, the promise of a better “Ro-Tel” dip that also included Chorizo was enough to make me consider a compromise.
The Ro-Tel would sub in for a great deal of the chopping, especially the part where gloves are recommended. I already had chorizo (I’m an impulse shopper, the ingredients I have on hand would astound you) and had purchased the Ro-Tel and Velveeta with plans to make mom’s standard dip. I wanted to add some real cheese for a more robust cheese flavor and had (like I almost always do) some shredded sharp cheddar cheese in the fridge. The recipe in Cook’s tossed shredded cheese with cornstarch before incorporating it into the dip. I assumed this was to keep the cheese from clumping, so I tossed a few pinches in with my cheddar before adding it. I suspect the cornstarch had an added benefit of absorbing some of the extra water in the Ro-Tel, as the final dip was much thicker than the original. It was wonderfully oozy rather than runny.
So, here’s the recipe as near as I can remember it. I wasn’t measuring, but I did weigh the chorizo so that I can quantify.
- 1 16 ounce block Velveeta Our local market didn’t have Mexican Velveeta. It doesn’t have much in the way of standard groceries actually, but it’s one of the few groceries in the county that is licensed to sell alcohol AND the closest market to our house because God wants us to be happy.
- 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and chilis. Just the regular stuff, not the mild or lime or whatever. I buy the only kind they made in the 80s when I first started eating it.
- 12 ounces chorizo
- about a cup or maybe less (definitely not more) shredded sharp cheddar cheese From the bag, like nature intended.
- a few pinches of cornstarch One pinch was not enough, I think I ended up using 3 or 4? Enough to lightly coat the cheese.
Remove the casings from the chorizo. I used kitchen scissors. This is the hardest and grossest part of this dish. Brown the chorizo in a medium saucepan, making sure to crumble it into small pieces. Spoon the chorizo onto a paper towel lined plate and wipe out the pot.
Return pot to heat. Dump the Rot-Tel (with all the liquid) into the pot and scrape up any chorizo goodness from the bottom.
Cut the Velveeta into several pieces and add to the pot. Stir occasionally until Velveeta is almost melted.
Toss cheddar with corn starch until lightly and evenly coated. Add to the pot and stir until melted.
Return chorizo to the pot and stir.
I’d love to try this with the Mexican Velveeta or maybe pepper jack in place of the cheddar. If you make any adjustments, tell me about them!