This easy and delicious crowd-pleaser evokes the history and culture of northern Mexico in every bite.
About 12 ounces melting cheese such as Monterrey Jack, Colby or Chihuahua or Asadero
Optional: Mexican oregano or other herbs, roasted Poblano chiles, sauteed mushrooms, cooked and crumbled chorizo sausage, or anything else that sounds appealing
1. Look in the cold oven to be sure the rack is in the middle position (if not, move it). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut 8 ounces of the cheese (about 2/3 of it) into 1/2-inch cubes. Shred the remaining cheese. Spread the chunks of cheese in the bottom of an 8-inch pie pan or similar metal or ceramic shallow cooking dish, or a couple smaller dishes. Spread the shredded cheese evenly over the cubes.
3. Distribute any additional ingredients (such as Mexican oregano or chiles or whatever) over the cheese, if using.
4. Bake for about 5-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and ever-so-slightly browning along the edges. The time will depend on the size and depth of your baking dish, so watch it carefully and pull it out when ready. Don't let it cook too long or the cheese will separate into unappetizing oils and solids. It is perfectly baked when the cheese is deliciously stringy.
5. While the Queso Fundido bakes, assemble everything you will need to serve it, including flour tortillas and Pico de Gallo or salsa.
6. Your Queso Fundido is ready! It will only stay melted and stringy for a very short time so serve it immediately, before it begins to solidify.