Cheesy, gooey Mexican snack/vegetarian taco/slice of heaven. See Notes section at the bottom for more details on choosing tortillas and serving a crowd.
Makes 6-8 portions (serving 2-4)
12 ounces melting cheese such as Chihuahua, Asadero, Monterrey Jack or Colby
1 large mild chile such as Poblano or Anaheim
Optional: Mexican oregano or other fresh or dried herbs
Warm tortillas for serving
1. Blister the chile directly over the flame on your stove top or in the broiler until the skin is evenly blackened all over. Let the chile “sweat” in a paper bag for about 10 minutes, then remove the skin, stem and seeds and cut into rough inch-long strips.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the middle position. Cut about 2/3 of the cheese into 1/2-inch cubes. Shred the remaining cheese. Spread the chunks of cheese in the bottom of a cazuela, or a ceramic or glass casserole or pie plate, about 8 inches in diameter. (Alternatively, you can use a couple of smaller baking dishes as in the picture. Just be sure to adjust the baking time accordingly.) Spread the shredded cheese evenly over the cubes, and distribute the roasted chile pieces and a pinch or two of herbs (if using) evenly over the cheese.
4. Bake for about 5-15 minutes, until cheese is fully melted, bubbly and ever-so-slightly browning along the edges. Baking 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 oils and solids.
5. Serve with a spoon to scoop out the cheesy goodness. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and the additional optional toppings if desired.
This is cheese, baby. Pure and simple. Melty, gooey, fantastic cheese, with lots of tasty goodness added in there too. Scooped into a warm tortilla and topped with salsa, cilantro, scallions, and who knows what else, you can think of queso fundido as a vegetarian taco option (but it’s more likely you’ll just think of it as heaven).
I didn’t specify the type of tortilla you should serve this with, and that’s because you’ve got some choices here. Since this is classically northern Mexican fare, this is one of those cases where flour tortillas are true to the cuisine. Northern Mexico (bordering my home state of Arizona) is the land of cattle ranches and wheat fields, so melty cow’s-milk cheese served in a flour tortilla is really a perfect pairing. On the other hand, a taco filled with gooey cheese (yum!) is so rich, I often find myself thinking of corn tortillas as a nice counterpoint for queso fundido. Bottom line, I say let your heart and your stomach be your guide and you can’t go wrong.
I’ve struggled a bit with how to characterize the number of servings here. This dish makes enough for at least 6-8 good-sized scoops of cheese, and the average person will probably have 2-3 scoops, depending on their appetite. You can absolutely double this recipe in a larger baking dish to feed a bigger crowd, adjusting the baking time accordingly.
Queso fundido will only stay perfectly melty and gooey for a very short time so serve it immediately. Have the warm tortillas and any toppings ready to go before you put it in the oven, so once it comes out everyone can serve themselves right away. (At which point it will disappear immediately.)