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Queso Fresco Sauce

CheeseSauce2 Queso Fresco Sauce

It’s supposed to be winter but what we keep getting hammered with is an emotional mish-mosh of precipitation and tickle-my-toes sand weather. It was 72F on Tuesday and snowing this morning when I woke up. The wind was blistering and the sparkly white dust was flying sideways landing on pine needles. If the weather would just stay put as God would have it be seasonly, then I’d have a better idea of what my cooking options are. At least I could anticipate my appetite and shop for the things that pair well with the weather. Certain things just don’t go with snow and ice just like hot soup won’t sit well while I’m lounging on the beach. But, cheese my friends, is good no matter what… Sauce, dip, string, slices, you name it! It’s always a good time for queso.  

PineTreeSnow Queso Fresco Sauce

And, with Super Bowl festivities kicking off tomorrow, colorful and filling recipes abound, of which I’m sure many will involve mucho, mucho queso. I’ve opted out of hosting a football party this year, but I like to satisfy my own cravings when they hit. Surely, no matter where I plant myself on Sunday afternoon, my hand will be reaching for snackage. Cheesy snacks. I go through moments of needing a certain food and after a solid break from cheese over the last 8 or so months, my body is begging for it. A trip to Whole Foods recently sparked it. 

In my deep excitement for the Redskins making it to notable championship this year, I did decide to make one staple side for my brothers to enjoy at their fiestas. They all love nachos, haystacks (something we grew up eating on Sabbath) and cheesy sandwiches, so I made a sauce for them to slather all over their chips or just dip into. 

I was mostly inspired by a huge stack of cheeses from Karoun’s Dairy I’ve been wanting to play with. I took a private tour of their factory in Turlock, Cali last summer while on a trip with the California Milk Advisory Board, and fell in love with their story — mostly a family-oriented one and all handmade — and their portfolio of quesos.  I’m prepping to share a really delicious post recapping the experience of visiting a few dairy farms in Modesto and the Karoun facility, but in the meantime, know that I left the ultra-sterilized building wanting to become a super cheese head. More on that later for sure.

From Latin varieties to Mediterranean recipes, Karoun‘s cheeses spread (no pun intended) the plate with options. In this house, we love whites but anything will do most times. I’m particularly a fan artisanal French and Spanish options, but for simpler dishes, a good melting cheese will do the trick.. 

Queso blanco, a staple in Mexican cuisine, is the perfect go-to one for making just about anything this weekend. And, Karoun’s is authentic enough where the light flavor components allow for modifying and making something really special. 

I didn’t have a plan when I pulled out a saucepan to start whisking, I just knew I wanted it to be creamy, gooey and diverse enough to use at least four different ways. 

I started with making roux to thicken it up. Some butter and flour. Added some milk. I grated the block of queso fresco, added some spices to find the right flavor and voila! Un queso para toda ocasión. I whisked until I reached  a consistency  good enough for pouring over nachos, tacos, burritos, vegetables, etc… yet gooey enough for dipping into the chip bowl. 

CheeseSauce1 Queso Fresco Sauce

I’m looking to create more delectable cheese recipes in the very near future (wink, wink!). If you think about it, it’s that perfect ingredient that binds together so many lovley dishes!

Like quesadillas, one of my favorite bar snacks. 

If you’re enjoying the Super Bowl this weekend, go all in and make this rich, homemade treat everyone will want to make for themselves. Invite them to add it to their festive recipe box! 

Because cheese really is a happy food. It can be homey and cheesy or it can be refined and sophisticated. This weekend, let’s go for simple and cheesy, but high quality. 

CheeseSaucePM Queso Fresco Sauce

{UPDATE: I’ve made a remake of sorts to this cheese sauce… the Chipotle Cheddar Sauce. Check it out. I think it’s smokin’. In fact, probably better than this one. You be the judge!} 

 

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follow on pinterest button Queso Fresco Sauce

 

QUESO FRESCO SAUCE (updated, 12/10/13)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. whole milk queso fresco, shredded
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. flour 
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Spring onions for garnish, angle minced

Method:

In medium sauce pan, melt butter until almost clarified. Makes sure not to brown.  On low to medium heat, stir in flour using whisk and cook in all the way until mixture is smooth but a slight bit pasty.  Whisk in milk, cumin, and hot sauce until all ingredients are well blended and bring to light boil. Reduce heat and fold in cheese in three parts, stirring gently and consistently for 2 minutes each time.  Cook on medium heat until cheese starts bubbling, approximately 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and stir with whisk to blend. Simmer for 2-3 more minutes, constantly stirring. For a thicker sauce, add one additional tablespoon of flour. To thin out cheese sauce, add 1/8 cup more milk after the third cheese fold in and continue to whisk until smooth and sauce starts to reduce to your desired consistency.

Pour into serving bowl for dipping or pour nachos or any other dish requiring cheese. Works particularly well for enchiladas, chicken breasts, and any dish requiring cheese sauce drizzles. 

*minced, seeded jalapeños can substitute the hot sauce.

Chef's notes: Queso fresco is a really great cheese to  use in quesadillas if used in slices. For a cheese sauce such as this one, you may find it slightly textured as it is a low fat content cheese. With proper technique, the grittiness  (what some experienced in making it -- and note that flour does not cause the grittiness) should not keep you from using it to pour over certain foods, as mentioned in the post. If you want a completely untextured, fully smooth and creamy sauce, consider adding an ounce or two or an American white cheese, such as white cheddar. 

By Bren
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Comments

    Rosa says:

    A wonderful sauce! I love anything cheese…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Michele R. says:

    Looks great. So creamy. You know how much we love cheese in this house. Cheese on everything. I’ll have show Alex this one.

    What a delicious sounding sauce. We are all cheese mad here and this sauce sounds so versatile :D

    jonathan says:

    Imagine dipping some garlic bread in this.. omGAH.

    m says:

    I tried making this, but my cheese did not melt, it just got all lumpy and looked like cottage cheese. Any advice on how to fix that? Would shredding the cheese help it melt better?

    Jessica says:

    This sauce tastes wonderful, but the cheese did not melt for me either. I chunked the cheese, as well. Any other tips??

    Yve says:

    I made this recently and the flavor was delicious! However, as some of the other folks stated, the consistency was rough (sort of like grits). Any tips on how to solve this problem would be very helpful! Thanks!

    Chef B says:

    Thanks Rosa, Lorraine, Jonathan. :) It’s great for sure.

    M, Jessica and Yve: Hmmm. I may have emailed some of you individually, so in case I didn’t and for the benefit of others reading this, if you’re sauce is coming out “gritty”, try adding a bit less flour and bit more milk. I made the sauce again and shredding definitely helps, but shouldn’t alter the consistency. Adding chunks will require you to work the mixture a lot more and won’t break down the cheese as you need it to. I’ve updated the recipe to reflect the modifications. I hope it helps and turns out as loveley as it really is if you make it again. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.

    Debbie says:

    I had the same problem. I used a heaping tablespoon as instructed. I could taste the four and it was gritty. I wish I had read the comments first. I added more milk and it was better but not great. I will probably try a different recipe next time.

    Chef B says:

    Debbie: As promised in email, I’ve address your issues in making this sauce. I hope it works for you with the technique changes!

    Mark Leisen says:

    Chef Debbie,

    Queso fresco does NOT melt. Probably accounts for the gritty bits. It’s not the roux for sure.

    Queso fresco is a crumbly cheese usedas a topping in salads, enchiladas, tacos.

    Btw, I’m a cheesemake and just pressed a round of queso fresco!

    Mark Leisen says:

    I’d make this sauce with chihuahua cheese. It melts!

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