Sauce No. 1

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I am a huge fan of Mexican food – every single kind, every single way. Whenever I go to California, I make sure to get my fill of it out there. Sometimes people will ask, ‘well you just had Mexican for dinner, had it this morning for breakfast, and we plan to go out to dinner tonight again, are you SURE you want it for lunch?!’ Well, the answer is always yes. No, I’m not kidding. I could eat it for every meal every day and would not get sick of it. After moving to Charlotte, I haven’t quite been able to go out to Mexican food as much as I’d like to and explore the city to find great new places. Living by yourself in a new city makes it hard to go out by yourself (plus, I’d rather be cooking in my kitchen), and my co workers aren’t nearly as enthused by my passion for Mexican; luckily I have parents who also love Mexican food and have taught me some great staple recipes.

This queso is the first in my sauce repertoire. I know queso is more like a dip, but it IS a cheese sauce, so my justification is there. Plus, there are so many applications that you can use this sauce – nachos, tacos, over a chile relleno, enchiladas, or just dipping your tortilla chips straight out of the jar. Trust me, after you’ve made this, you’ll be searching for excuses to make this sauce and serve it with EVERYTHING.

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Homemade Queso

1 tbsp oil
1 cup red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, finely diced
1 cup Cheddar, thinly sliced or shredded**
½ cup Colby jack, shredded*
½ cup mozzarella and provolone blend, shredded*
¼-1 cup of heavy cream
1 bunch of cilantro
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp paprika
Optional: 1 small tomato diced, ½ cup of cooked chorizo, ½ cup of green onion

*You can use any combination of cheese you like here. You may choose to pick all one cheese or more of one, less of the other. You need 2 cups total, so feel free to experiment with cheeses –just make sure to use a melting cheese.
**I have used both pre-shredded and block form for the cheddar, and I have found that a block of cheddar sliced thinly produces a smoother consistency.

Heat the oil to medium heat in a medium pot. Add the diced onion and jalapeno. Cook until soft. Add the cheeses, a little at a time, and ¼ cup of heavy cream. Stir continuously. Keep adding the cheeses in smaller batches until all has been incorporated. Turn up the heat just slightly and add more cream to get a smooth consistency. If it looks sort of grainy, add more cream. I ended up using a little less than a cup to get the consistency I was going for –and I kicked up the heat to really get everything melted; use your instincts, just be sure to watch closely. Once smooth, add the cilantro, chile powder, and paprika (now is the time to add any other optional ingredients you may want). Serve immediately.

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