Once a year I make the sinful, #fatkid level of indulgent snack foods known simply as, Queso. My recipe goes well beyond the standard Velveeta and Rotel in a pot, though, those two ingredients are front and center.
I grew up loving Velveeta and still very much do. My mom cooked with it and I’m so glad she did. I know it’s not real cheese. I know it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. I know it’s one of the worst things you can attempt to digest. Don’t care.
A number of years ago, I started attempting to elevate the standard by adding some fresh ingredients and protein. I wanted it spicier, I wanted it heartier and wanted to maybe not feel so bad for just eating straight, melted cheese.
The recent version you’ll see detailed below is what I’ve been rocking the past few years. It includes a number of different hot sauces, green chili stew, fresh jalapeno, cilantro and a blend of hot and mild sausages.
This year we removed the sausage in favor of a true Texas original. We went full Bob Armstrong Dip.
For those of you unfamiliar with the phenomenon and lore of Bob Armstrong Dip, let me feed you baby birds. It’s taking queso…wait for it…and adding a heaping serving of taco meat and guacamole, directly to the bowl. *drops mic*
A full account of the story can be found on Eater, but here’s an excerpt:
Matt’s El Rancho opened in 1952 on what is now Cesar Chavez downtown, and quickly evolved from a tiny restaurant serving plate lunches to a Tex Mex destination for politicians, sports writers, and other movers and shakers in mid-century Austin, including LBJ. In the Matt’s El Rancho cookbook MexTex: Traditional Tex-Mex Taste, Matt Martinez Jr. tells the following story of the dip’s creation: Bob Armstrong came into the kitchen and asked a teenaged Matt Martinez to whip him up “something different.” On a whim, Martinez added taco meat and guacamole to a bowl of queso, and when Bob Armstrong tasted it, “his eyes got as big as saucers.” Back at the Capitol, Armstrong ignited a craze for the new dish he’d had, which politicians started calling “that Bob Armstrong dip.”
No matter what, this is a classic that works for any big game or gathering. Super Bowl, Final Four, Indy 500, a 1-year-old birthday, a Saturday night…
Let’s get cooking!
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 80 minutes Total: 90 minutes (1.5 hours)
Quick note: The lion’s share of this is waiting for the cheese to actually melt and blend the ingredients. So depending on where you feel that falls (prep or cook), the total time is the same. I put the melting time in “cook”.
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED:
2 large block of Velveeta (scale based on number of guests)
1 can Rotel
1/2 jar green chili Stew
1 cup ranch (optional)
1 jalapeño (plus 1 habanero, if you’re nasty)
1 cup chopped cilantro
Any combination of hot sauces. I use:
Cholula Chili Lime
D.L. Jardine’s Texas Champagne
Dans Prime, Widow Maker
¼ red onion
½ large tomato
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
½ cup chopped scallion
- Cube the cheese into about 1.5-inch cubes. This will help them melt faster.
- Personally, I like to melt everything right into a crockpot vs. melting the cheese in a pot and then transfer. It does take longer as a crockpot isn’t instantly hot. So give yourself some extra time to melt down the cheese while mixing in the ingredients – about 60 minutes on High.
- Give it a stir every once in a while to keep it off the sides, not over cook, etc.
- Once you’re about 50% melted, put in the can or Rotel (juice and all)
- I fine chop the jalapeño, scallion & cilantro, then sauté all of it before I add to the cheese.
- Cheese should be just about melted, so add just over half of the jar of the chili stew and stir. You can do this in batches as you don’t want to make the cheese too thin. Add a cup, stir, wait, repeat.
- For taste, add in the ranch and start shaking in the hot sauces. Taste as you go in order to get the level of heat you want. Each time you add some sauce, stir and give it a min to make it through the thickness of the cheese.
- Once you’re fully melted, put on low/warm. Keep stirring from time-to-time to keep it off the sides.
- Over medium-high heat, brown the grass-fed meat. Grass-fed beef has a lot less fat and other crap in it but I think equally as tasty.
- Once browned, drain the fat
- Add spices, ¾ cup water and mix that shit up (I use a ready-made taco seasoning because I’m lazy)
- I leave the meat in the skillet so it stays warm vs. transferring to a bowl, but I don’t know about your fancy parties that require platting etiquette
- Add pitted avocado to a bowl and break up but don’t mash
- Sprinkle on some sea salt so that the avocado starts to break down and absorb
- Add chopped red onion and diced tomato
- Add half a lime, more salt
- Mix and mash and add more lime or salt to your taste if needed
- You’re an adult so I won’t belabor this. Put cheese in a bowl. Add as much meat and guac as you can handle. Sit down with chips. Eat.