There’s nothing like a warm, oozy cheese dip with some corn chips or tortillas. And, if there is a “season” for cheese dip, it’s upon us. You may have dipped a chip or two around the holidays, but with Hollywood award shows (The Golden Globes take place this Sunday, January 12) and football playoff games to watch on TV or movies to settle in for on a long winter’s night, it’s prime time for dipping.
This recipe by chef and cookbook author Rick Bayless, which appeared in Real Food, kicks it up a notch from the block of Velveeta mixed with some salsa. In Mexico, queso fundido is offered in restaurants in the northern part of the country. Even though northern Mexico doesn’t exactly have a wintry clime, Rick thinks of this as a perfect cool-weather dish. Use tasty corn tortillas to scoop the melting cheese and flavorful mushrooms—the combination is beyond description, he notes. Have your guests already seated before you serve them—it’s critical to catch the cheese at its most oozy. Or, keep it warm in a small fondue dish over a tea light.
Wild Mushroom Queso Fundido
Serves 6 as a light appetizer
¾ oz. (about ½ c.) dried porcini (or other wild mushrooms)
2 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 large jalapeño or 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and finely chopped
1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
1 large ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp. full-flavored beer
8 oz. Monterey jack cheese, shredded (about 2 c.)
About a dozen warm corn or flour tortillas
Place mushrooms into a small bowl, cover with boiling water, weight with a plate to keep mushrooms submerged, and let rehydrate for 20 minutes. Drain off liquid, pressing on mushrooms to remove all of the water. Chop into ¼-inch pieces.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles, onion, tomato, and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until onion begins to soften and brown, 7 or 8 minutes. Add beer and stir until liquid has evaporated and mixture looks dry.
Reduce heat to medium-low, sprinkle cheese evenly over vegetables, and stir slowly and constantly until cheese is just melted. Immediately scoop into a warm serving dish (a small fondue dish over a tea light is ideal) and serve with warm tortillas for making soft tacos.