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Food in Jars Queso


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1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3/4 cup/180 ml whole milk

1 cup/120 g yellow cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup/60 ml chunky tomato salsa, drained

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cilantro, for garnish


 Put salsa in a small strainer to get rid of the watery juice.  

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk to incorporate. Let the butter and flour mixture cook, whisking regularly until it has browned slightly. Turn heat down to medium-low.  Add a small amount of milk and whisk to combine. It will thicken rapidly. Continue adding the milk and whisking to combine until all the milk is incorporated.

Turn down the heat to low.  Add the grated cheese one handful at a time, stirring until it’s completely melted. Continue adding cheese in small handfuls until it’s all used up.  If the heat is too high, the cheese can take on a grainy appearance.  It still tastes fine, it just doesn’t look as good!   Remove from heat and add salsa and salt and stir until just combined.

We’ve been privileged to have Food in Jar’s Marissa McClellan at our market twice to do a demo on canning and preserves. This recipe was an instant hit with everyone, and our family has been making this on repeat ever since. Queso really just means melted cheese and is often associated with the neon orange dip you buy in food courts or football games. That’s often made with “American cheese”, more commonly known as Velvetta. It creates the creamiest texture, but I prefer to use real cheddar cheese. Do not use pre-shredded cheese, as it has an additive that keeps it from clumping together in the bag and doesn’t melt as well. Plain or marble cheddar is the best for this recipe, don’t bother with expensive aged cheeses. Also, if you have a small slow cooker or a fondue pot, it’s perfect to serve it in that as it keeps it heated and smooth for serving. It will start to firm up as soon as it cools. 

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