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Roasted Poblano White Queso Dip

Serve this spiced, cheesy dip for your next Game Day celebration!
Course Appetizer, Starters
Cuisine North American, Tex-Mex
Keyword queso dip, roasted poblano
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
steaming the peppers 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 10 people
Calories 320kcal

Equipment

  • cast iron skillet
  • whisk

Ingredients

  • 2 large (220 grams) poblano peppers
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 70 grams) unsalted butter sliced
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 small onion or 40 grams) white onion minced
  • 3 cloves (1 heaping tablespoon or 12 grams) garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (2 12-ounce cans or 700 milliliters) evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon (17 grams) dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon (from 1 medium lime or 15 milliliters) lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 ounces (2 cups or 113 grams) smoked gouda shredded
  • 4 ounces (2 cups or 113 grams) Monterey jack cheese shredded
  • 4 ounces (2 cups or 113 grams) white American cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves chopped

To Serve

  • tortilla chips
  • chopped red onion
  • thinly sliced jalapeño pepper
  • fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions

Roast the Poblano Peppers (can be done up to a week ahead)

  • On a gas stove: turn on the exhaust fan.
    Heat the stove on high and lay the pepper over the grate. Roast the pepper for 1 minute or until black blisters form on the peel.
    Use a pair of tongs to flip the pepper repeatedly until the entire peel is blistered and charred. This usually takes 3-4 minutes over an open flame.
  • On an electric stove: heat a seasoned (non-stick) cast-iron skillet over high heat.
    Once the skillet is searingly hot, press your poblanos onto the surface using a pair of tongs, making sure as much of the skin touches the skillet as possible.
    The pepper will begin shimmying, and you'll hear the seeds inside begin to pop.
    Flip the poblanos over to roast the other sides, searing each side like you did the first. This can take anywhere from 7-10 minutes.

Steam, then Peel, and Cut the Poblanos

  • Once the poblanos are charred, use the tongs to transfer them to a food storage bag to steam or cover them with a clean kitchen towel.
    Allow the peppers to steam for 15-20 minutes or until cool to the touch.  
  • Tear the pepper open with your hands (wear gloves if you have sensitive skin).
    Once open, pull off the stem and use the backside of your chef's knife to scrape away the seeds. Remove the yellow membrane that runs the length of the pepper as well, then discard everything you just removed. 
  • Once the pepper is empty, flatten it out onto your cutting board. Use the back of your knife blade to scrape off the papery skin of the poblanos.
    After scraping away the skin, pat the peppers on both sides with a paper towel to dry them. 
  • Cut the peppers into 1/4-inch thick strips, then across the strips to 1/4-inch pieces.
    Set this aside while you begin the white queso dip. 

Prepare the Roasted Poblano White Queso Dip

  • Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat.
    Once the butter is melted, use a wooden spoon or a whisk to stir in the minced onion and garlic.
    Sauté the veggies until they're glossy and opaque- about 3-4 minutes.
  • Whisk the all-purpose flour into the pan. Stir the roux until it becomes blonde in color, or for 1 minute. 
    Pour the evaporated milk into the pan in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. The roux will go from looking like a paste to looking like a thin gravy as you whisk in the milk. This will take about 5 minutes.
  • Once you add the milk to the roux, this becomes a béchamel sauce (or a milk sauce).
    Flavor the béchamel by adding the Dijon mustard, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper to the sauce.
    After adding the spices and other flavorings, decrease the stove temperature to low. Allow the béchamel to cool off for 5 minutes while you whisk occasionally. 
  • With the stove still on low, whisk in the shredded cheese a 1/2-cup at a time.
    After all the cheese is mixed in, add the diced poblanos and the chopped cilantro. Whisk these in until they are incorporated. Don't allow the sauce to simmer.
  • The roasted poblano white queso should be smooth and thick at this point. If you see some graininess, whisk in up to 1/2-cup of warmed whole milk.
    Garnish the queso dip with chopped red onions, thin jalapeño slices, and some more cilantro.
    Serve with warmed tortilla chips.

Notes

Swaps and Substitutions:

  • Gouda: edam, gruyere, or more Monterey jack.
  • Monterey jack: Havarti, mozzarella, or more gouda.
  • White American cheese: muenster, white Velveeta, or white cheddar.
  • To make this Yellow Queso:
    • Replace the smoked gouda with smoked cheddar.
    • Swap the Monterey jack out for Colby cheese.
    • Replace the white American cheese with yellow American cheese. 
  • Replace the poblanos in this recipe with jalapeños (you'll need 6 large ones) for a spicy white queso dip.
  • To make a mild pepper white queso dip, replace the poblanos with 2 large bell peppers.
  • If you don't have evaporated milk, you can use whole milk for this recipe. You need to simmer 6 3/4 cups of whole milk down to 3 cups over medium-low heat.

Tips and Techniques:

  • Select poblanos that have a deep green color, that are firm, not gummy or soft, and that are as flat as possible. These are easier to roast evenly.
  • Buy cheese labeled "pasteurized process American cheese." Some labels say "American pasteurized process cheese product."
  • Pre-shredded bagged cheese is not recommended for making queso dip.
  • Adding cold ingredients to the mornay sauce will cause it to seize up and/or curdle. 
  • You should peel poblano peppers after roasting them to remove the papery skins. If you don't, it will flake off into the dip as you stir it and discolor the dip as well as leave strands of skins floating in the dip.
  • Pour the evaporated milk in slowly and constantly whisk to avoid clumps in the roux. If your béchamel is too clumpy, try pressing the clumps with the whisk or whisking a bit longer. If it's too clumpy, you may need to strain it. 
  • Adding cold cheese or adding cheese too fast causes cheese sauces to curdle. You can also curdle your mornay by adding the cheese to a béchamel that is too hot.
  • The consistency of queso is not the same as a cheese sauce for broccoli. It's more like a thick gravy than a stringy sauce. 
  • Queso dip clumps faster than cheese sauce does. As a result, it's best enjoyed right after you finish making it.
  • I don't recommend freezing the queso dip. The roux breaks down during the freezing process and causes the dip to curdle after thawing.

Slow Cooker Warming Instructions:

Queso dip can be kept warm in the slow cooker for two hours:
  1. Transfer the prepared queso dip to a slow cooker set on warm, or 135°F (60°C).
  2. Keep the queso warm for up to 2 hours. Add 1/4-cup of warmed whole milk to the dip at a time and as needed if the dip is becoming too thick.
  3. Stir it every 15-20 minutes to keep it smooth using a rubber spatula, which keeps the sides of the slow cooker clean and prevents the queso from burning there.
  4. A skin will form on the queso as it sits. Just stir it back into the dip. 
  5. Dip remaining after 2 hours should be discarded.

Make-Ahead Poblano Prep:

You can roast peppers six months ahead and freeze them for later use.
  1. Just follow the instructions up to dicing the peppers.
  2. After the peppers are diced, lay them onto a silicone baking mat in an even layer. Try to keep them from touching each other.
  3. Freeze the diced poblanos until solid, transfer them to a freezer-safe storage container, and put them into the freezer.
  4. Allow them to come to room temperature before using them. You will probably need to pat them dry again as freezing will create moisture.
If you plan to make the dip soon, you can also store the diced peppers in the fridge for up to a week. 

Storage and Reheating Instructions:

  • Transfer leftover roasted poblano white queso to a covered container and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. 
  • To Reheat Poblano White Queso:
    1. Scoop the amount you plan to serve into a microwave-safe container. Add a tablespoon of whole milk to the bowl with the queso (cold milk is fine here since the queso is cold).
    2. Heat it on high for 30 seconds.
    3. Remove the bowl from the microwave and give the queso a stir.
    4. Continue heating the queso in 30-second increments until it is warmed to your preferred temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 537mg | Potassium: 294mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 759IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 480mg | Iron: 1mg