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Tom’s Cookbook Library: Fain pays homage to her favorite food

Lisa Fain's cookbook “Queso!” includes more than 55 queso-centric recipes.
Lisa Fain's cookbook “Queso!” includes more than 55 queso-centric recipes.

Lisa Fain has made a name for herself via her award-winning blog ("Homesick Texan") and cookbooks (“The Homesick Texan Cookbook” and “The Homesick Texan’s Family Table”).

With the release of “Queso!” (Ten Speed Press), Fain further builds on that recognition.

Fain’s latest book focuses on the versatility of the popular Southwestern chile-cheese dip with its Mexican roots. The author notes that chile con queso (queso, for short) fuels happy times.

Home cooks will find more than 55 queso-centric recipes, including “Choriqueso” (below). In addition, there’s a basic primer that provides historic background on chile con queso and a discussion on how to cook with fresh or dried chiles.


(Makes 6 to 8 servings)

2 ancho chiles, seeded, rehydrated and chopped

2 Tbl. red wine vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 Tbl. chopped yellow onion

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1 Tbl. vegetable oil

1/2 pound ground pork

1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Warm flour tortillas, for serving

Place the anchos in a blender with the vinegar and water. Blend until smooth, then add the onion, garlic, salt, cumin, paprika, oregano, cinnamon and cayenne. Blend again until smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. If it’s too stiff to blend properly, add water, one tablespoon at a time.

In a large broiler-safe skillet, warm the vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Pour in the chili puree and cook for one minute. Add the ground pork and stir until well-combined with the sauce. Cook, shirring occasionally, until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if you like.

Position a rack six inches from the upper heating element and preheat the broiler.

Evenly sprinkle the Monterey Jack cheese over the cooked chorizo in the skillet. Place the skillet under the broiler and cook for two minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.

Serve warm in the skillet with tortillas.

Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively for years about food and the food industry. Contact him at

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