Saturday, June 19, 2010

Melted Mozzarella Casserole with Mushrooms and Smoky Chipotle Chile (Queso Fundido)

Today is FIESTA DAY at my house! Well, tonight is anyway. My brother is here visiting from Seattle, and a few weeks ago my mom said she thought we should have a fiesta while he's here. I jumped on board immediately because I'm always down for an excuse to eat Mexican food and drink margaritas. We invited my friend Jen and her family, and I think a couple of the husband's friends may swing by too. It's going to be quite the feast. My contributions are going to be this Rick Bayless queso fundido recipe, Pioneer Woman's pico de gallo, and Rick Bayless guacamole (assuming I can find the box with my Mexican Everyday cookbook).

This queso recipe came from the Rick Bayless cookbook Mexico One Plate at a Time that I was holding hostage from the library for literally months, until I had to finally return it this past week. Bummer. My brother's a vegetarian, so I wanted to find something without meat in it, and since my mom and Jen were both making main course items I thought I'd do some sides and decided on queso fundido. This recipe sounded really good...cheese, mushrooms, and chipotle peppers?! Yes please!!

(Thankfully I found the recipe on the Food Network website which means I get to copy and paste instead of typing it out...woo hoo!)

Melted Mozzarella Casserole with Mushrooms and Smoky Chipotle Chile (Queso Fundido)
Recipe from Mexico: One Plate at a Time (Scribner, 2000) by Rick Bayless

- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
- 1 medium red onion, sliced
- 6 to 8 ounces full-flavored mushrooms, such as shiitakes, oysters or practically any wild variety, stemmed (discard woody stems or finely chop them) and sliced (you'll have about 2 generous cups)
- 2 to 3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeded and thinly sliced
- Salt
- 12 corn tortillas, the fresher the better (store-bought are okay, but homemade will really shine here)
- 8 ounces mozzarella, preferably whole-milk (but not "fresh" mozzarella, which will not melt) or Mexican quesillo, shredded (you'll have about 2 cups)
- A generous 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or generous 1 teaspoon chopped fresh epazote
- A little black pepper, preferably freshly ground

The mushroom mixture: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet (preferably nonstick), heat the oil over medium-high. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softening and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir nearly constantly until they have softened and any juice they release has evaporated, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the sliced chiles, then taste and season with salt, usually about 1/4 teaspoon. Transfer the mixture to a 9- or 10-inch shallow baking dish, Mexican cazuela or pie plate.

Finishing the queso fundido: Very lightly dampen a clean kitchen towel. Check the tortillas to make sure none are stuck together. Wrap them in the towel, then in foil, sealing the edges tightly. Place in the oven and set the timer for 7 minutes. When the timer goes off, stir the shredded cheese into the warm mushroom mixture. Set in the oven alongside the tortillas and bake until the cheese is just melted, about 5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with the thyme or epazote and black pepper and serve without a moment's hesitation, accompanied by warm tortillas.


I haven't decided yet if I'm going to make tortillas or not. I bought chips to serve it with but tortillas might be nice too. I don't remember if I've unpacked my tortilla press yet or not, so that will probably be the deciding factor.

I'm going to use a mixture of shiitake and cremini mushrooms for mine. They oyster mushrooms at my grocery store looked questionable. Having never used them before I wasn't entirely sure what they were supposed to look like to know if they were okay or not. So I went with shiitake, but they were pretty pricey so I figured I'd throw in some cremini to save a bit of money.

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