Queso, a popular Tex-Mex dip made with processed American cheese and canned tomatoes, was inspired by chile con queso, a Mexican dip of melted cheese and chiles that made its way to the United States in the 1930s and ’40s. As the two-ingredient Americanized adaptation gained popularity, supermarkets began placing Ro-tel canned tomatoes near shelf-stable Velveeta cheese, and queso became mainstream. Purists will argue that any ingredient beyond American cheese and spicy diced tomatoes is unnecessary, but you can customize this recipe by adding any combination of black beans, scallions, cilantro, garlic, cumin, red-pepper flakes, oregano, lime zest or juice.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1(2-pound) block processed American cheese, such as Velveeta
- 1(10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with chiles, preferably Ro-tel brand
- Tortilla chips, for serving
- 1cup rinsed canned black beans
- ¾cup thinly sliced scallions (about 7 scallions)
- ½cup chopped cilantro
- 2garlic cloves, minced
- ½teaspoon ground cumin
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- ¼teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
- ¼packed teaspoon fresh lime zest, plus 2 teaspoons juice (from about 1 lime)
- Minced canned chipotle chiles en adobo, to taste
- Kosher salt
Step 1Roughly chop the processed cheese into 1-inch cubes, then add to a medium saucepan. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, plus 2/3 cup water, then heat over medium-low, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted and mixture is creamy, 5 to 7 minutes. You can stop here, and serve immediately with chips, or proceed to Step 2, if you’re feeling extra.
Step 2Stir in any combination of desired additions: black beans, scallions, cilantro, garlic, cumin, red-pepper flakes, oregano, and lime zest and juice. Heat over low, stirring occasionally, until warmed and flavors meld, about 5 minutes. If you like some extra heat, stir in chipotle chiles en adobo. Season to taste with salt, and additional red-pepper flakes, if desired, and serve immediately. (You could also keep your queso in a slow-cooker on a low setting, stirring occasionally, to keep it molten.) Mixture will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.