Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mexican in Spain

I’m going home in three weeks and besides seeing my family and my friends, there’s someone else I’m really looking forward to seeing: queso. Oh, my dear friend, he’s stood by me for so long, whenever I wanted, he was there, tasty as ever and he got along great with both chips and tortillas. He was always there for me, that is, until I moved to Spain and he stayed in Texas.

Queso doesn’t exist here because yellow cheese is hard to come by. They have so many great cheeses here, but they’re all white. No yellow cheese that’ll melt into a lovely puddle mixed with garlic, peppers, tomatoes, and onions. I did happen to find its cousin however, queso fundido. This is a lot easier to re-create, as it’s just white cheese melted to perfection in the oven and eaten with corn tortillas. I like to eat mine with a bit of chorizo, sometimes called choriqueso, which after regular queso, I tend to order a lot when I’m out in Austin.
The good thing about this is you don’t have to have a specific kind of cheese, just some good, white, melting cheese. I went to the deli counter at the store and asked what a good cheese would be to melt and they gave me some Danish or Dutch stuff, I can’t remember.

So with a bit of chorizo, corn tortillas, cilantro and a squirt of lime, I almost felt right at home.

Queso Fundido with Chorizo

a good helping of white melting cheese (depends on how many people you have)
about the same amount of cooking chorizo (not the already cured/cooked stuff)
plenty of corn tortillas
a handful of cilantro
a lime

It might be one of the easiest recipes ever, and it doesn’t have to be exact, as you can tell from the measurements above. It depends on how much you want to eat, and how much you like each ingredient. So first of all, preheat the oven to something pretty hot, around 400 F or 210 C and put the cheese in an oven proof dish (a lot of times it’s served in a heavy iron pan, but I didn’t have any oven-safe ones), and into the oven. To know when it’s finished, you just have to watch it until it’s bubbling and maybe a tiny bit brown around the edges. While the cheese is cooking, start the chorizo. If it’s in casings, as mine were, get all the meat out of it and put in a pan over medium heat on the stove. As it cooks it’ll start popping, releasing lots of grease and changing color. When it’s finished, it’ll be firmer. In the meantime, chop the cilantro roughly and heat your tortillas either in the microwave or in the oven with the cheese. And that’s pretty much it. You wait for everything to be cooked and hot and then you assemble: take a tortilla in hand, and spoon on some cheese (you know you’ve got the right cheese if it’s super stringy and starts getting more so as it cools). Then add some chorizo, a sprinkling of cilantro and a tiny squirt of lime juice. Roll up and don’t drip grease on yourself.

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