(Spoiler alert: Velveeta rant ahead)
I think we can all agree: Cheese is a wonderful thing (Why aren’t there more poems to cheese? Are there any poems to cheese?).
And it’s even better when melted. Here’s a formula for cheese success: Melty cheese + Tex-Mex flavors = Queso Dip = Delicious!
The only problem with recipes for Queso Dip is that 90+% seem to start with a so-called “processed cheese product.” Hmm.. Another curiously bland marketing name for the same thing is, “Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product.”
You know where I’m going, right? Two words: “Vel” and “veeta.”
Look – I’m just going to say it: Velveeta is not cheese. It may look like cheese, it may taste like cheese, it may even cook like cheese, but polyester isn’t silk, and Velveeta isn’t cheese.
Perhaps it’s my cheesehead roots because even my stomach balks at “Pasteurized Prepared….” whatever. I just don’t feel right – physically (and, yes, morally) – after eating it. Granted, some find Velveeta tasty and convenient; it’s very popular. But consider the ingredients:
Milk, Water, Whey, Milk Protein Concentrate, Milkfat, Whey Protein Concentrate, Sodium Phosphate, Contains 2% or less of: Salt, Calcium Phosphate, Lactic Acid, Sorbic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Alginate, Enzymes, Apocarotenal, Annatto, Cheese Culture.
Milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes.
Here are my rules for eating: #1 Ingredient lists shouldn’t read like cell phone contracts. Ingredients (and cell phone contracts) should be to-the-point and understandable; and, #2) Avoid ingredients with made-up words (again, cell phone contracts…].
Which is why I was so happy to get this recipe, courtesy of my daughter.
It starts with evaporated milk, then some pre-shredded cheese, and a can of Rotel tomatoes. That’s it!
The final touch is up to you: perhaps a little spice tailored to your palate to produce deliciously dippable dip.
A note about the tomatoes: Rotel tomatoes come in different varieties. I tried “chunky” and it was ok, but not my favorite. The chunks are just too . . . chunky. Too big for me; the chunks dominate the taste. And curiously, there often were too many bites without tomato-y bits.
The best I found is the “original” Rotel. To me, it provides the greatest distribution of flavors throughout the dip.
I also tried the can with Habanero peppers and liked that as well. Compared to other spices, Habanero peppers provide an uptempo “heat,” not overwhelming, just a flamenco-type kick to the taste. ¡Perfecto!
Also, be sure to use a package of pre-shredded cheese. There are many pluses: It’s super-convenient, the cheeses are typically coated with a natural agent to prevent caking such as modified cornstarch or potato starch, and, once heated, those ingredients serve as thickening agents. Win-Win-Win! 😀
Have some queso nacho-style with guac for a super tasty snack!
Real Cheese Queso Dip
- 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 8 oz Mexican blend cheese 2 cups
- 12 oz can Rotel tomatoes with chilis undrained
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- In a small saucepan, bring the evaporated milk to a boil.
- Add in the cheese and stir until melted.
- Add cayenne pepper and tomatoes and stir well.
- Turn off heat.
- Serve warm with tortilla chips.