Chile con queso, or just queso, is a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine. The classic recipe is based on processed American cheese with tomatoes and green chiles, often Velvet and Ro-Tel.
From the time it was introduced, Ro-Tel hitched its wagon to processed cheese, producing early advertisements that encouraged home cooks to make their “cheese dip” with Velveeta and Ro-Tel. That partnership continues today, with millions of dollars spent between Kraft and ConAgra (who now own Velveeta and Ro-Tel, respectively) each year in joint television advertising.
From there, chile con queso staked its place as a popular party dish. With Velveeta and Ro-Tel now widely available on grocery store shelves, home cooks could simply warm the block of processed cheese with a can of tomatoes to produce a dip that was always consistent, and always perfectly smooth. “The first recipe with Velveeta I could find was written in Lubbock in 1939,” says Fain. “From that point on, there was no looking back. It became the cheese to use for chile con queso. American cheese has more dairy in it, so you have to add stabilizers. You need starch and liquids to stabilize the sauce. And who doesn’t love processed cheese? It’s salty, it’s tangy, it’s delicious.”
But there are many different ways to make queso, and local preferences vary across the U.S. I make queso by stirring a jar of homemade salsa into a jar of store-brand cheese sauce. It's good with everything! Read up on the history and varieties of queso at Eater. -via Metafilter, where you'll find links to queso recipes.
(Image credit: Kathy Tran/Eater Dallas)
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