Mexican Baked Cheese (Queso Fundido)
The idea for this recipe was given to be by a friend in Bolivia, who has a Mexican friend who used to cook for her all the time. I remember her first telling me about this dish. She was gesturing all over the place in true Latin fashion, I was leaning into her like she was telling me about the second coming of christ. She told me a tale of chorizo, oozing cheese, crispy tortilla chips. What a story. Tell it again.
I forgot about it for a few years, mainly because I forgot what she called it. But I came across it on Pinterest a while ago and recognised it instantly. It's called Queso Fundido - means 'molten cheese' in Spanish - and its one of my favourite things to pull-off when people come over for drinks and something nibbly. It's incredibly rich and slutty. I probably wouldn't eat it as part of a procession of courses, but just on it's own, with lots of things to dip in - rather like a fondue, but in a much higher league. I'm serious. That good!
This dish is a layered creation, consisting of alternating layers of spicy chorizo sausage/onions/chilli and cheese. It's then baked until molten, gooey and stringy - a spectacle! The only allowance I make is that Mexican cheese is tricky to find in the UK. The cheese you would traditionally use is Oaxaca or Chihuahua - if you've never heard of those, no sweat! What I use is a mixture of mozzarella and slices of Dutch Gouda, giving you a rich cheesy aroma and that characteristic stretch and tangle of molten cheese. Brace yourself.
- 1 ring of fresh Chorizo (approx. 200g)
- 1 Onion
- 1 Bell pepper
- 1 Red Chilli
- 1 teaspoon of ground Cumin
- 200g Dried/Grated Mozzarella
- 200g Grated/Sliced Gouda
- Since this dish consists of two layers, lets start the meat/vegetable layer. Take your chorizo, onion, bell pepper, red chilli (for mild heat, remove the seeds inside the chilli) and cumin and place into a food processor. Blend until you have a red flurry of small chunks. If you don't have a food processor, simply chop the ingredients and finely as you can.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat a large frying with a tablespoon of oil, and tip in the red flurry of vegetables and chorizo. Fry on a low heat for about 10 minutes until everything is soft. The paprika oils will ooze from the chorizo and make the flurry become even redder. The vegetables may leak a some liquid, if you find a lot of liquid appearing, you can simply skim it off with a spoon.
- Take a heatproof dish and scoop in about a third of the vegetable and chorizo mixture, then spread it evenly around the bottom of the dish.
- Take your mozzarella and gouda and mix then together. I use the ready-grated mozzarella - the cheap stuff - simply because it's stringier and doesn't leak lots of liquid like fresh mozzarella would. I also use pre-sliced Dutch gouda, though you could buy a block of it and grate it yourself. Whichever way you do it, make a layer of cheese in the dish over the vegetable and chorizo mixture.
- Continue to layer up the dish, making sure your final and topping layer is cheese. Place this whole dish into the middle of the oven and bake for 10 minutes until melted. Don't cook it for too long as it can dry out and toughen.
- Once molten, eat straight away with tortilla chips, chopped vegetables, or crusty, white bread. A margarita isn't terrible with it either.