In Queso Emergency

Snow day! Snow is actually landing on our deck and not melting immediately. The forecast calls for 2 inches of accumulation, which will be about the 6th time a quantity like that has accumulated in almost 150 years.

When Tropical Storm Allison shut Houston down for the weekend all those years ago, we made a run to the only open grocery store we could find, the Kroger on 20th.

The lines for the 2 open registers reached almost to the back of the store when we arrived. By the time we were ready to check out, more cashiers had opened lines, but that really didn’t work in our favor. I wish we’d simply walked away when we saw how crowded it was.

The store was fairly well-stocked as far as staples go. The shelves were stripped bare, however, on the chip, cookie, and junk food aisles.

Faced with this dire situation, we made a bad choice. We bought generic processed cheese for our queso. If I can stop just one person from making this mistake, I will not have lived in vain. Do not buy generic processed cheese.  Generic processed cheese does not melt smoothly. It gets grainy. Eeeeeeewwww.

Now, I love good cheese.  Blues?  The smellier, the better. Unpasturized and smuggled in from northern Spain? Bring it on. I will pay more per pound for cheese than for just about any other product.

But I feel no need to hide from you the fact that I use Velveeta for queso.  It is the only cheese that works for the old-school, Tex-Mex queso we grew up with in Houston. And in case of emergency, queso is one of the foods to have on hand.

In the worst-case scenario, dump and nuke.  That is, melt a stick of Velveeta in the microwave and stir in a can of Rotel. Ta-da, queso!

When you have more time to prepare, however, fall back on a slightly more refined recipe:

4 cloves minced garlic
1 big onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 TBS vegetable oil (you can use olive oil, but really?)
big ol’ dash of cumin(1-2 tsp.)
big ol’ dash of chili powder (1-2 tsp. depending on heat you can tolerate)
block of Velveeta, the biggest one they’ve got
a small container of sour cream

Sauté all of the veggies until tender.  Add in the spices and cook a little longer, but try not to let veggies get brown. This can be hard to gauge because the spices color them, but you’ll figure it out.

Stir in the cheese, cut into chunks, and stir over very low heat until it melts.  Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.  Serve in chaffing dish or crock pot to keep warm.

You’ll note that the dump and nuke emergency recipe, Velveeta + Rotel in the microwave, has tomatoes, while the gourmet recipe does not. You can always add a can of Rotel to the gourmet recipe. You could even dice and sauté some tomatoes, I suppose. I never let it get too fancy.

Now I cannot show you pictures, because my hurricane preparedness kit is strangely devoid of both Rotel and Velveeta.  I suspect that at some point today, if the weather clears up enough so that we can risk driving, we’ll be hitting the Fiesta on 14th in search of the basics. You simply cannot have a snow day in Texas without queso.

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6 Responses to In Queso Emergency

  1. Teresa says:

    Darn, wish I’d read this earlier … I made Velveeta hot spicy sausage dip last night as our “starter”, then posole for dinner. I used 1/2 block of Velveeta only, so think I’ll try your recipe with the 2nd 1/2 … of course, this will mean a lot of cheese dip for just 2 people!

  2. Shannon says:

    this is by far the most awesome queso recipe of all time. and i think the fresh poblanos — such a classy touch — cancel out some of the artery clogging properties of the velveeta. i’m pretty sure i read that somewhere.

    • nonsequiteuse says:

      I find poblanos make any cheese dish that historically has been known for being somewhat unnatural (pimento cheese, anyone?) much better. In fact, just posted my preferred pimento cheese recipe on another blog – must get it up here at some point. I’ll have to figure out the proportions.

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