Americans might be drinking less cow’s milk than they used to, but we’re making up for it with our steadily rising cheese consumption. We also love tacos—and have overwhelmingly popular social media hashtags to prove it—so it’s a head scratcher as to why more of us don’t marry these two obsessions together.
There’s the Tex-Mex creation we call queso or chile con queso, but it can seem a little out of place served next to more authentically Mexican dishes like carnitas tacos and chicken tamales. Its aqueous consistency can also create a bit of a mess, which means this dip isn’t ideal for at-home entertaining.
But don’t resign your next taco party to only guacamole and salsa appetizers just yet. There’s a real Mexican cheese dish that’s perfect for parties (and nights alone on the couch) called queso fundido. Translated to “molten cheese” in Mexican, it’s served in a cast iron skillet and accompanied by fresh tortillas—not dry chips. Guests can roll up a dollop of melted cheese (and whatever else you throw into a tortilla) and savor the gooey goodness.
For more details about the dish and expert tips on how to make it home, we turned to Reagan Angelle, executive chef of Casa del Toro in New York City. Angelle serves both the straight-cheese recipe as well as the super-satisfying chorizo fundido. The two characteristics that make queso fundido the perfect party treat are its simplicity and versatility.
“Chorizo fundido is a very easy preparation,” Angelle says. “It’s basically making melting cheese with whatever various spices and flavors you like.”
But the chef’s most important queso fundido tip has to do with your equipment. The skillet is the main key to your success.
“It is very important that you use a seasoned cast iron pan,” Angelle says. “If your cast iron is seasoned correctly, there will be oils baked into the actual iron so there is no need for extra fat to be added.”
With this vital fundido knowledge, you’re now ready to test out the dish in your own kitchen. Follow Angelle’s recipe below for freshly made chorizo fundido and watch how quickly you and your guests forget all about guacamole.
1 pound lean ground pork
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
.25 teaspoon cumin
.50 teaspoon sugar
.50 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl by hand or with a mixer.
1 cup uncooked chorizo
2 tablespoons finely diced poblano peppers
2 tablespoons finely diced yellow onion
1 cup shredded queso chihuahua
1 tablespoon grated queso cotija
Heat your cast iron pan on your stovetop. When it is hot, add small diced poblano peppers and onions. When the peppers and onions are halfway cooked, add the chorizo mixture. Allow this to fully cook.
The pork will release extra grease into the pan. It is up to you whether you want to keep this fat or not. Simply drain the fat into a container if you’d like less fat, keeping in mind that oils from the cheese will also be released in the melting process.
Next, add your cheeses—first the queso chihuahua, then sprinkle a small amount of cotija on top. The cotija cheese is a drier cheese, so it will give your chorizo fundido a nice brown top. If available, use the broiler setting in your oven to melt the cheese so there is a nice golden brown layer on top. (This can also be achieved by setting the oven at a high temperature.) The quicker the cheese is melted the better, since all the ingredients are essentially cooked.
When the golden brown layer is achieved, you’re done! Heat up a few corn tortillas and enjoy!