Gordo’s Mexican Cheese Dip and a Cheese Tour Below The Border
Monday, March 12, 2018
Hey, all! Chef Gordo is here and ready to take you on a culinary adventure. I make a mean Mexican cheese dip, but as I wrote about last week, Gordo’s is (proudly!) part of the TexMex tradition. This week, I thought we’d pay homage to the “Mex” part of TexMex and take a tour of the traditional Mexican cheese scene.
Everybody hears “cheese” and thinks France. The French do make a mean gruyere, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t own cheese. Obviously! Gordo’s is Mexican restaurant-style cheese dip perfection. No French cheesemonger could make a better melted marvel than the perfection that is Gordo’s cheese dip.
I’m getting carried away talking up my masterpiece. Chef Gordo can share the spotlight, at least for a bit. Make me part of your balanced cheese diet, but go out and explore, too! Let’s start our (quick) tour of some of Mexico’s cheeses. Right this way…
Made with either raw cow’s milk or a blend of cow and goat milk, queso fresco is a staple of Jalisco, Mexico. Queso fresco is not aged, which means you get to enjoy it that much sooner. Going carbless but still want a grilled cheese? Congrats! You’ve found a great option in queso fresco. This cheese holds it’s shape. Unlike Gordo’s cheese dip, queso fresco won’t melt into a puddle over heat. Try it grilled!
All you need to do to enjoy queso fresco grilled is slice it and brown the slices on a skillet (without oil or butter.) This should take a couple of minutes a side – check for a good, caramel brown color and you’ll know it’s ready. Don’t worry about the sound of the sizzle! That’s magic happening.
Serve grilled queso fresco in bite sized pieces, topped with a little Gordo’s salsa.
Most Americans have already tried this cheese without realizing it. Queso anejo is often sprinkled on top of enchiladas at authentic Mexican restaurants. (Like we talked about last week, TexMex restaurants use a cheese like Gordo’s on their enchiladas. Both are good options!)
It’s a common misconception that queso anejo is made by aging queso fresco. Nope! Anejo is its own unique cheese with its own unique flavor. It was traditionally made with goat’s milk, but is primarily made with cow’s milk today. Anejo is a salty, sharp cheese – sort of like parmesan. If you buy anejo cheese whole in the store, you’ll likely notice a bright red color on the exterior. That’s paprika, which the round has been rolled in.
Toss some crumbled queso anejo on your refried beans or enchiladas. For a salty tang, use it as a topper on tortilla soup.
Cojita cheese, named for the Mexican state where it was born, is a cow’s milk cheese that’s aged for anywhere from three to 12 months. Cojita is salty, crumbly and hard. When heated, it – unlike Gordo’s! – doesn’t melt. It will soften, but you won’t get gooey goodness. Cojita cheese is often used to add another layer of flavor to savory dishes. Use it to add a new twist to eggs benedict or as an unexpected addition to avocado toast. (No, Chef Gordo ain’t a millennial. Yeah, he still loves avocado toast!)
Gordo’s Mexican Cheese Dip: Back to TexMex Basics
There are so many more amazing Mexican cheeses. I hope you’ll get to the grocery store or an international market in your area and explore them all. I love trying new ingredients and dishes. It gives you a better appreciation for other cultures and makes the favorite dishes you hold in your heart that much tastier when you eat ‘em. So if you’ve been on a cuilinary adventure and you’re ready to kick back with some Gordo’s, why not pair this Mexican cheese dip with a classic? The best pairing for Gordo’s is the tortilla chip!
Tortilla chips, so simple, so easy to get at the store. You ever tried to make them yourself? No, you say? Well, I hope our adventure earlier in this blog has inspired you to try new things. If you decide to give it a shot, snap a pic and tag me on Facebook or Twitter. I want to see your triumph! (Or your failure – you tried!) Honestly, making tortilla chips at home is easier than you think, since you use pre-made corn or flour tortillas. For extra challenge, make your own tortillas first.
Homemade Tortilla Chips, Three Ways
- 6 to 8 corn tortillas
- Vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
Cut the tortillas into sixths. Next, line a baking sheet with paper towels. Pour 3 inches of vegetable oil in to a 5 quart pot. This may take about 10 cups of vegetable oil. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Cook the tortillas in two batches, using a slotted spoon to stir and keep them submerged in the oil. When the tortillas – now tortilla chips! – are golden brown, remove them and let them dry and drip on the paper towels. The cook time in the oil should be about 3 minutes. As the chips cool, sprinkle them generously with kosher salt. This is a classic serving option for enjoying Gordo’s Mexican cheese dip.
Baked Corn Chips
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 3⁄4 cup boiling water
Oven at 400 degrees. Ingredients: into one bowl. Stir! Once mixed, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet. For best results, line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Smooth the dough out evenly and not too thick across the baking sheet. Now, score the dough with a knife into triangular chip shapes. You can skip the scoring, but it may help you get the traditional chip shape after cooking. Bake for 10 minutes. Let the chip sheet cool on the pan. As they cool, sprinkly them with kosher salt. Once cool enough to handle, break them apart.
Baked, another way
- Corn tortillas
- Neutral vegetable oil, like grapeseed or canola
- Flaky sea salt
Oven at 350 degrees this time. Use a tablespoon or more of your oil to brush a thin coating onto a baking tray. Next, put your tortillas into a stack, oiling the top of each tortilla lightly as you do. Cut through your stack of tortillas next, slicing them into wedges. Lay them out in a single layer (this part’s important!) a single layer on the baking tray. Sprinkle the tortilla wedges with salt, then bake them for 8 to 12 minutes. Keep an eye on them – rotate the tray if the chips start to singe. You’ll know they’re done when the edges start to lift from the tray and look dry. Let them cool, but test them after 3 minutes. If they’re not as crispy as you’d like, toss them back in the oven for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve with the greatest melty, cheese dip wonder of them all: Gordo’s.