Melted Cheese with Mushrooms and Chile Poblano Strips
Queso fundido is featured along with grilled cabrito (baby goat) around Guadalajara and across the northern states of Mexico, where it may be called queso flameado. The stringy melted cheese is served in shallow clay or metal dishes and scooped up with floppy flour tortillas. A spicy tomato salsa is added right before eating. This recipe uses mushrooms and chile poblano strips, but fried and crumbled chorizo is another delicious possibility.
- 1 chile poblano, roasted, peeled and cut into strips
- 2 tbsp / 30g butter
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 60g mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups / 250g mild Cheddar, grated
- 10-12 flour tortillas
How to make it
- Saute the chile strips in 1 tbsp of the butter, season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Saute the mushrooms in the other tablespoon of butter until they begin to release their juices. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Lightly grease 2 cazuelitas or small flameproof casseroles. In one, place half the cheese and half the chile strips. In the other, place the remaining cheese and half the mushrooms. Cover the cazuelitas with aluminum foil and set over low heat until the cheese begins to melt, about 3 minutes. Uncover and cook another 2 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. Add the remaining mushrooms and chile strips to their respective cazuelitas.
- Serve hot with flour tortillas, so that the cheese can be used in preparing individual tacos.
How to roast the chile
Chiles are roasted or toasted so that they release their aroma and are easier to grind or puree in a blender. Heat a comal or iron skillet over medium heat. Place the chiles in the hot skillet, using a spatulato press them against it slightly. Turn them so that both sides begin to change color. This will take 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
Cazuela: This traditional earthenware casserole of Mexico, glazed on the inside and rough on the outside, is used for moles and stews, as it heats evenly and retains heat for a long time. New ones must be cured. One prescribed way is to first rub the inside with a cut clove of garlic, fill it with cold water and slowly simmer until the pot is dry. Repeat the proces several times and wash the pot with soapy water. It is wise to not store food in any glazed pots or cook very acidic foods in them because the glaze contains lead.
Chiles: The many chiles all belong to the genus Capsicum and vary in degree of hotness and in flavor, not only between species but between plants of the same species, depending on such variables as soil and climate. To confuse things even more, the same chiles may go by different names in the different states of mexico. Wearing rubber gloves is a good idea when preparing chiles, as the pithy white placenta, or seed cluster, can burn the skin. Be careful not to touch your eyes. Remove the placenta and seeds if a less picante taste is desired.
Chorizo: This wonderful fragrant sausage is made of sections of pig intestine stuffed with a seasoned ground pork mixture. Usually sold in links, it is more highly seasoned than spanish chorizo. While quite good chorizo may be purchased at many meat markets, stay clear of the plastic wrapped mixtures seen at some supermarkets. Chorizo must be cooked before eating. It is usually removed from its casings and crumbled.
Comal: This thin unglazed clay or metal circular plate is placed over heat and used to cook or heat tortillas and other foods. A cast-iron skillet (frying pan) or griddle can be used.
Mole: A Nahuatl word describing a sauce or mixture containing chile. There are many variations, only a few containing chocolate.
Rajas: Strips, usually of chiles.
Tortilla: A thin round of ground dried corn made into dough (masa) and quickly cooked on a comal. It serves as the bread of Mexico - as a wrapper, an edible scoop and a plate. In Mexican villages it is common to see the tortillas patted, or carefully shaped by hand, and cooked on an earthenware comal. Unfortunately, the necessities of daily life force ciy dwellers to eat tortillas from tortilla factories, where the tortillas are made by machine and have a totally different flavor and texture than homemade. Tortillas vary in color, from white to yellow. In the villages you can even find red or blue tortillas made from wild corn. In Northern Mexico wheat-flour tortillas are common, but for most Mexicans, the word tortilla means a tortilla made with corn masa.