Don’t call it a comeback. Queso’s been here for years, just in different guises, and we have a new one for you.
Chile con queso or just queso, thank you very much, is a Texas culinary treasure. One chip dipped into the molten cheese and the novice is hooked — be it the traditional recipe started with Velveeta or highfalutin concoctions throwing in chorizo verde. The dish may be seen as an abomination by purists of Mexican food, but queso morphed from queso fundido, a classic Mexican dish of thicker melted cheese (with a slight golden-brown burn at the base of the cheese). It was when Mexican immigrants moved to the region of New Spain where the ingredients were different or where they were cut off from Mexico after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that market availability necessitated adaptation. Voila! Queso came bubbling up.
However, queso fundido has been making a comeback. It can be found on the menus of modern Mexican restaurants, taquerias, and eateries focusing on local and seasonal items. One of those restaurants is Second Bar + Kitchen in Austin, Texas, where executive chef David Bull has added his own spin to the dish with his signature starter avocado fundido. The recipe for which is below.
Courtesy Executive Chef David Bull, Second Bar + Kitchen, Austin, Texas
2 ripe avocados, diced small
2 tablespoons tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons red onions, diced
1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon jalapeños, minced
In a large bowl, combine the avocados with tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, coarse salt, red wine vinegar, and jalapeños until well mixed. Salt to taste.
3 ounces chorizo
1 cup Asadero cheese or queso menonita, shredded (alternate: mozzarella cheese)
In a medium oven-safe dish, layer your ingredients with 3 ounces of chorizo at the bottom mixed with a quarter cup of the cheese. Place in a 400-degree oven for 8 minutes. Remove the pan and cover the entire top with guacamole, leaving a little room at the top to be covered with cheese. Place back in the oven for another 7 minutes. Switch to high broil to brown the top of the cheese. Pull from the oven once the cheese on top has browned.
Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.
For more information on Second Bar + Kitchen or to make reservations, visit the restaurant’s website.
Photography: Courtesy Second Bar + Kitchen