Queso Fundido is everywhere. It’s taking over the world. It’s sweeping the nation! My friend Gaby made it a couple of days ago, my friend Adrianna made it last year, and everyone has their own little spin on the luscious Mexican munchie. The common denominator, of course, is queso, otherwise known as cheese, otherwise known as the thing that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning, and as long as you melt a bunch of cheese with another ingredient or two and serve it with tortillas or chips (or both!) you’re on the right track.
When I first learned about Queso Fundido, I realized I’d been unknowingly making it all my life. When I was growing up, I’d sometimes put a little (okay, a big honking) slice of cheese on a plate and microwave it until it was gooey. And then I’d just stand there and eat it. With a fork. Completely devoid of shame or regret. And even though I was missing the meat component of Queso Fundido, I certainly had the cheese part down pat.
“Queso Fundido” translates to “molten cheese” (or “melted cheese”) and this skillet of wonderfulness definitely has plenty to spare! This is a classic Mexican appetizer (actually, the original Mexican version is flambéed…using booze!) that you can customize however your heart desires. And it’s absolutely perfect for the Super Bowl! Keep it pared down, with only cheese and sausage…or dress it up a little bit as I do in this post.
This is absolutely, positively a cheese lover’s paradise.
Chop up an onion…
Then dice up a yellow bell pepper…
And a green bell pepper.
And actually, you can use any color of bell pepper you want: red, yellow, orange, green. Just let your conscience be your guide.
But here was my thinking: I’m putting diced tomato on the whole delicious mess when it’s done. So that’ll take care of the red!
I spend entirely too much time thinking about color.
Next, cook some sausage! I used good ol’ breakfast sausage (otherwise known as the J.C. Potter stuff) but you can use chorizo if you really want to go nuts. (Chorizo is nice and spicy!)
When the sausage is totally cooked, remove it to a paper towel to drain. Because it will be in with all the melting cheese later, you want to remove as much of the grease as possible.
If there’s any excess grease in the skillet, pour it out and blot it with paper towels, if necessary. Then add the onions and peppers to the skillet and cook them over medium-high heat.
You’ll want to cook them for a good 5 minutes or so, until they’ve softened up a bit and turned golden brown in color! Then just remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.
(Note: I won’t use all of these veggies since I’m using a smaller skillet.)
Dice up some tomatoes. You’ll need them later!
Next: The Cheese. This is obviously a hugely important component to Queso Fundido. You can really use any cheese you want, but you want it to be the kind of cheese that becomes “stringy” when it melts. So Monterey Jack or mozzarella are perfect!
Grate up a whole bunch of it seeing that it’s, well, the most important part of the whole dish.
I also grate up some Mexican “Queso Quesadilla” cheese, which I discovered is pretty much the same as Monterey Jack!
Now, the skillet size is another variable. I like to use smaller skillets for Queso Fundido—this is about 6-7 inches, I think—because the queso disappears faster…which you want, because otherwise, in a big skillet, it might not get eaten fast enough and the cheese might start to firm up, which is always a tragedy of epic proportions.
You can also use a regular glass or ceramic baking dish—it doesn’t have to be a skillet!
You can also split it all up among a few smaller vessels.
Or, of course, you can do it in a big ol’ skillet. Just make sure you have plenty of guests to gobble it up!
Start with a layer of cheese, please.
Then add a layer of sausage, por favor.
Then another layer of cheese…
And a layer of the veggies.
Note: If you have veggies left over, just save them in the fridge and make an omelet!
Another note: You can just use 1 onion and 1 bell pepper if you don’t care about representing all the colors of the rainbow. This recipe is very flexible.
End with a layer of cheese…
A little more sausage…
And a little more cheese, just so the sausage is covered.
Finally, to give it all a nice kick, give it a light sprinkling of chili powder! You can also do a really light sprinkling of cumin if you’d like. A little extra flavor never hurt anyone.
Pop it in a 400 degree oven, and start watching it after about 4 to 5 minutes. You want to make sure the cheese is really hot and bubbly but not so much so that the cheese starts to harden. So just start peeking about 4 minutes in…but truth be told, it’ll probably need to be in there for a good 8 minutes or so. Possibly more, depending on how big or small your vessel is.
Now, this is perfectly delicious as it is and you could go ahead and serve it now.
But it’s not nearly colorful enough for me.
Top the whole thing with the diced tomato the second it comes out of the oven!
But there’s still one more thing I need to do.
Just what it needed.
Before I dive into the center of this and totally embarrass myself…let’s just take a final moment to look at this skillet full of perfection. I mean…melted cheese. Sausage. Peppers. Onions. Cool, fresh tomatoes. Fresh, flavorful cilantro.
The world is a beautiful place.
And have I mentioned I love cheese? I’m not sure if I’ve made that clear in the 8 years I’ve been blogging.
Oh, and remember that thing I mentioned a few seconds ago about diving in? Well…that’s exactly what I did.
Have a fork nearby. If it’s hard to dig the chips in without them breaking, the fork can help wrangle the cheese a bit!
If you need something fabulous to serve your Super Bowl guests…
If the wings and brownies and chili and sliders just aren’t enough…
This is definitely the perfect solution!
Real quick, just a couple of tips/reminders:
* The skillet will be very hot, so be sure to wrap the handle in a cloth and tell your guests that it’s a hottie.
* Be sure to watch it in the oven to make sure the cheese doesn’t “overcook.”
* I can’t emphasize enough the importance of serving this piping hot right out of the oven! It changes pretty quickly as it starts to cool, and you want to experience maximum meltiness.
You’ll love this, guys!
Here’s the handy dandy printable.
1/2 pound Hot Breakfast Sausage (such As Jimmy Dean Or J.C. Potter) Or Chorizo
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
2 whole SMALL Bell Peppers (any Color Combination), Seeded And Finely Diced
1 pound Monterey Jack, Grated (OR Mozzarella, Or Other Stringy Melting Cheese), Grated
Sprinkle Of Chili Powder
3 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
1/4 cup Cilantro, Chopped
Tortilla Chips For Serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet, cook and crumble the sausage until brown. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel. Pour off any excess fat. Add onions and bell peppers to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until the veggies are soft and golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
To build the skillet, place 1/3 of the cheese in a medium-sized ovenproof skillet. Add half the sausage. Add another third of the cheese, then as much of the veggie mixture as you'd like (you may have a little left over.) Add almost all of the remaining cheese, the rest of the sausage, then whatever cheese you have left. Sprinkle the top very lightly with chili powder.
NOTE: Depending on the size of your skillet or baking dish, you may have some ingredients left over. Just build so that the ingredients roughly reach the top of the skillet; they'll shrink quite a bit once the cheese melts!
Place into the oven and start watching it about 4 to 5 minutes in. You want to bake it until the cheese is totally melted, hot, and slightly bubbling...but before the cheese starts to firm up/harden. (In other words, you still want the cheese to be extra gooey.)
Remove from the oven, top with the diced tomatoes, sprinkle on the tomatoes, and serve immediately with tortilla chips!
NOTE: Be sure to have everything ready so you can serve the queso fundido pretty much right out of the oven. It's best when piping hot!
IMPORTANT: Wrap a cloth around the skillet handle so guests won't burn themselves.