Queso flameado is an incredibly cheesy, just-slightly-spicy appetizer of mind-boggling deliciousness. Eat it wrapped in a tortilla with margarita in hand and die happy.
Time to take a look at that Cinco de Mayo checklist, folks. Let’s see here… delicious Mexican cocktail, check… tortillas, that hardy foundation for a multitude of foods, check… mayonnaise, nope, wrong holiday… queso… wait, WHERE THE HELL IS THE QUESO?! Without a doubt, you need queso. It’s one of the basic food groups, right up there with bacon and chocolate. Luckily, we got your back with this ridiculously good (and ridiculously easy) queso flameado recipe.
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that we have no problem with regular queso. In fact, we almost worship it. We keep an emergency ration of Rotel and Velveeta in the pantry just in case. We also have some in our hurricane/zombie apocalypse kit. Not even kidding. Queso is delicious, and watching that smooth golden goodness drizzle over nachos and burritos is just magical, but there are times where one feels the need to dress it up a little. So this is formal queso. The type that enjoys the opera and the symphony.
I first found out about this dish when we visited out favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston, Ninfa’s (and as Houstonians like to clarify, obviously the one on Navigation). They like to claim that they were ground zero for the popularization of the fajita as we know it. I can’t testify to that, but I can tell you that they make some first class food. Anyway, looking to branch out from our typical pre-dinner nachos (gasp!), Liz spied the following description: “Cheese Casserole with Chorizo Sausage”. In addition to being masters of tortillas and fajitas, Ninfa’s has a black belt in understatement. This is so much more; the description should just be a picture of Chuck Norris with a block of cheese in place of his fist. They bring out a sizzling, bubbling skillet of cheese and wrap it up in fresh tortillas right there at your table. And when you bite into it… wow… it’s just awesome. It tastes so fresh, and the spicy notes of the chorizo cut through the intense richness of the melted cheese (which is now stretched between your plate and your mouth) just as your eyes roll back in your head and you pass out in happiness. Then you come to and eat some more.
This was our attempt to recreate our now-favorite Tex-Mex appetizer. First thing you need to do is blacken some poblano peppers. You can do this on the grill (which is our preferred method) or under the broiler. Once the skin is mostly blackened (without incinerating the whole pepper), stash the peppers in a zip lock bag for a little bit so it can steam. Meanwhile, cook up your chorizo (look for the Mexican variety, as it is quite different from the Spanish kind), and shred some cheese. By now, you should be able to remove the peppers and peel the char off easily (some black specks hanging on are fine). Slice those peppers. Then you combine it in a small oven-safe dish: cheese on the bottom, chorizo and peppers on top. Throw it (well, place it, throwing it will make a mess) in the oven and let it get melty and bubbly.
Once it’s cooked, remove it and serve immediately. It will have an interesting, almost non-newtonian fluid consistency (sorry, the enginerd in me is leaking through). It flows a little bit, but it’s solid enough that you can easily portion it. While it’s a delicious addition to typical Tex-Mex fare, we think it really shines served simply, wrapped up in a tortilla (like our favorite homemade flour tortillas). Just look at those pictures if you need proof!
Fast, easy, decadent, and delicious. What more could you ask for this Cinco de Mayo? Or really any day. (Besides this AND a grapefruit margarita.) In fact, I think I’m gonna go make some right now.
Adapted from Homesick Texan.
- 3 cups of shredded asadero* cheese
- 1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 poblano chile
- ½ cup of Mexican chorizo
- Pre-heat your grill to medium high.
- Grill the poblano chile, rotating until all sides are blackened. Alternatively, you can do this under your broiler, but keep an eye on it, as broilers can get VERY hot.
- Place the poblano in a ziplock bag, seal, and set aside for 15 minutes to steam.
- Peel the char from the poblano, stem and seed it, and cut it into strips.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook your chorizo in a small skillet on the stove over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces. It will take around 5 minutes to cook through.
- Grease a casserole, or other oven-safe dish, and load it up with all the cheese. Sprinkle the poblano and chorizo on top.
- Cook 15 minutes, or until it's bubbling around the edges.
- Portion out immediately onto warm tortillas or other food.
Recipe adapted from Homesick Texan.