Thursday, March 6, 2008

My Great Queso Recipe

For years our group of friends met almost every Monday night for Monday Night Football. And as our families grew with children it, obviously, become more and more difficult to do this on a regular basis.

One constant was our queso dip, cheese dip, or what we commonly refer to as Ro*tel, solely because of one of the main ingredients, canned Ro*tel. It not only became a festival of processed cheese and smooth cold barley pops, but also a competition if you will. Or an opportunity to put your signature on it; so if you were hosting MNF, it was ‘your’ Ro*tel. From Ric’s experimentation with blackened chicken queso(how sublime it was) or Italian style; he never disappointed. To Sam’s more generic approach (meat and potatoes Sam) or the opposite end of the spectrum with Mark’s blended Habanero peppers (THREE OF THEM) dropped into the vat. I will never forget that dish as long as I live. It was so hot you could not even discern a cheese flavor from the peppers. You had to continue eating for the burn was so bad and space in your mouth made room for air which acted like gas on a fire. This version could have you dancing like Soy Bomb at the Grammy’s. And the repercussions were felt for days after; sooner if you are of the lactose intolerant persuasion.

Some of you may consider plopping a can of this wondrous elixir in a bowl with Velveeta and microwaving it until you have, voila, queso. Nothing could be further from the truth. What you have just concocted is a sorry excuse for laziness. You must build this queso with love, sweat and determination, or just a little more time.

Here’s my take on the MNF queso. You must allow yourself a couple of hours to have the cheese melt at a low temperature, but it is worth it. If you must tweak the recipe, DO SO AT YOUR OWN PERIL:

1 lb of HOT ground pork sausage (get one of those tubes of Jimmy Dean, JC Potter, etc)

2 cans of diced Ro*tel(make sure it’s diced. Who wants to spend more time blending?? I use one can of Mexican and can of regular)

1 big block of Velveeta (don’t substitute real cheese, it defeats the purpose)

2 TB Chili Powder

1 ½ TB Ground Cayenne (Red) Pepper

1 TB Ground Cumin

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 TB dried onion flakes (if you don’t have flakes substitute 1-2 tsp onion powder)

Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat. As it browns chop it up so it doesn’t brown in huge clumps. After it has browned strain and place under hot tap water to remove excess grease (hey, this may be a heart attack in a bowl but who wants to push it over the edge).

Cut the Velveeta into 1 inch cubes and place in a Crockpot. Pour in the ground sausage after it has been drained well. Open the cans of Ro*tel and drain off the liquid. Add both cans of drained Ro*tel to the crockpot. Next add all of your dry ingredients. Mix well and turn crockpot on to the low setting. Stir every 15 minutes or so to move the melted cheese off the sides of the pot. It should have a very thick soup consistency when finished.

Spoon over tortilla chips and enjoy! Some prefer to serve in bowls and dip.

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