Chile Con Queso, or “Rotle“, as my brother’s hilarious ex-wife always called it, has become an American staple. Made simply by combining melted Velveeta cheese and a can of Rotel (diced tomatoes and chilies), it’s always a crowd favorite. As for me? I like it in a pinch, I suppose, but usually I find the whole Rotel/Velveeta thing pretty limited and bland. And I’d just about relegated Chile Con Queso to the list of culinary items I’m, like, soooooo over…when what should happen but my other sister-in-law, Pesky Tim’s wife, showed up at my house one Fourth of July with this yummy creation:
This, my friends, is Chile Con Queso, Revved Up. It’s “Rotle” on steroids, or at least caffeine or Vivarin. This Chile con Queso contains Velveeta and Rotel, yes, but it also incorporates meaty sausage, extra green chilies, sauteed onion, and delightfully crunchy, fresh, spicy jalapeno. It’s a nice change from the typical “Rotle”, and though I can pretty much guarantee it won’t show up on the syllabus at the French Culinary Institute any time soon, it’s always a crowd pleaser—especially if that crowd contains humans of the male variety. But enough of the chit chat—let’s break this apart!
The Cast of Characters: Velveeta, Onion, Hot Breakfast Sausage, Rotel, Green Chiles…
And I almost forgot! Jalapeno. I’m sorry, dear Jalapeno. I can’t believe I forgot about you. I think it’s because I chopped you up for some Pico de Gallo last week and accidentally rubbed my eyes. It was so traumatic, I’ve been trying to block you out ever since.
Start by chopping the onion: Cut the onion in half from root to tip.
Lay one half face down and cut off the top. And I know I should have used a cutting board, but I couldn’t be bothered. Don’t hate me.
Peel off the outer skin.
Make several vertical slices…
Then rotate the onion 90 degrees and make horizontal slices, creating a fine dice.
Cut the sausage in half to make it easier to remove from the package.
Put the sausage and chopped onion in a skillet. I’m not a big user of nonstick, but for this particular dish, nonstick is essential!
Stir together and start breaking up the sausage.
Cook until brown…
Behold the hunka hunka burnin’ Velveeta. You gotta love its processed, homogenized simplicity.
Make two slices down the entire length of the Velveeta.
Then, like the onion, rotate 90 degrees and cut the other direction. This is an easy way to chop, dice, or cube anything; just make slices in one direction, then rotate and make slices in the other direction. Easy as Velveeta.
Now you have a pile of hunka hunka burnin’ Velveeta cubes. Neato!
By now, the onions and sausage are nice and brown. But before you add the cheese, you might want to drain some of the angina-inducing fat.
Now just throw in the Velveeta cubes…
Followed by the can of Rotel, juice and all…
(And by the way, I usually use the “Extra Hot” Rotel in the red can, but it is spuh-ICY! Use at your own risk.)
Then the can of chopped green chilies, juice and all.
Start stirring together over low heat…
Until it all starts coming together.
Ahhhh. It’s gettin’ there.
Now to address the lonesome jalapeno I so insensitively cast aside earlier.
Cut off the top and bottom of the pepper, then cut it in half from top to bottom.
Now it’s time for a little self-examination. How tough are you, in terms of your ability to tolerate spicy food? If you love it “picoso”, or spicy, go ahead and keep the seeds and white membranes in the jalapenos when you dice them. If you’re a whimp, scrape out all the seeds & membranes and discard them, as that’s where all the heat resides. If you’re somewhere in between, just leave a little of the hot stuff.
In any event, cut the jalapenos into thin matchsticks.
Then, like the onions and the hunka Velveeta, rotate the matchsticks 90 degrees and slice jalapenos in the opposite direction.
And just throw ’em right into the queso.
Heck, go crazy if you want! This is one jalapeno, but after tasting the finished product, I realized I could easily have used two or even three. This ingredient adds a real kick!
Stir it all together…
Make sure it’s piping hot.
(Just look at all that fabulous texture. I probably could have broken up the sausage with my spoon a bit more…but that’s just a personal preference.)
Now dip in your chips and go for it!
When serving at a party, the queso needs to be kept very hot. I’ve used a fondue pot before, but my cool sister-in-law, who always brings this to our Fourth-of-July bash, just uses a Crock Pot. As a matter of fact, she browns the sausage and onions in a skillet, then dumps them into the Crock Pot with the remaining ingredients to finish ’em off. That’s a handy solution, but it needs to be stirred quite a bit.
This recipe makes a LOT of queso, so I often let it cool slightly, split it up into two or three Ziplocs, and store it in the freezer.
That way, I always have something handy to heat up and serve to all the cowboys who come over to our house to watch the Ultimate Fighting Challenge.