Queso Fundido con Rajas y Chorizo

When I found this recipe while paging through Larry’s copy of Rick Bayless’ Authentic Mexican, it was one of those fortuitous moments when I realized I had every single ingredient on hand (including chorizo, poblano peppers and mozzarella cheese) except tortillas, which were easy enough to pick up. It was like the stars aligned for me to make Queso Fundido con Rajas y Chorizo. And so I went with it. Hot out of the oven and spooned into warmed tortillas, the gooey cheese peppered with crumbled chorizo and strips of roasted poblano peppers was a dish worthy of a great cocktail party or the laziest of Sunday nights. I chose the latter. Followed by a fabulous (albeit sad) new episode of Downton Abbey.

Queso Fundido con Rajas y Chorizo (Melted Cheese with Roasted Peppers and Chorizo, from Rick Bayless’ Authentic Mexican; makes 2-4)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1 fresh chile poblano, roasted and peeled, seeded and sliced into thin strips
4 ounces (1/2 cup) chorizo sausage, store-bought or homemade, casing removed
8 ounces (2 heaping cups) melting cheese like mozzarella and/or Monterey Jack, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Turn the oven on to 375 degrees and set an 8-to 9-inch pie pan or gratin dish in the lower third to heat while you prepare the toppings.

In a medium-small skillet, heat half the oil over medium. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the pepper strips, cook several minutes until they’re softening, then scoop the mixture into a small bowl. Measure the remaining oil into the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the chorizo and gently fry until done, about 10 minutes, breaking up any clumps as it cooks. Drain off excess fat and set the skillet aside.

Remove the hot pain from the oven and spread the cheese cubes in a shallow layer over the bottom. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is just melted. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle on the chile-onion mixture and the chorizo. Bake for 4 or 5 minutes to heat the vegetables and meat, then carry the hot, bubbling queso fundido to the table for people to scoop into warm flour tortillas, roll up and eat.

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