BOB ARMSTRONG QUESO
THE SIGNATURE DISH AT MATT’S EL RANCHO IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, IS NAMED AFTER FORMER TEXAS LAND COMMISSIONER BOB ARMSTRONG, WHO ONE DAY ASKED THEM TO MAKE HIM “SOMETHING DIFFERENT.” THE SIGNATURE DISH AT MATT’S EL RANCHO IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, IS NAMED AFTER FORMER TEXAS LAND COMMISSIONER BOB ARMSTRONG, WHO ONE DAY ASKED THEM TO MAKE HIM “SOMETHING DIFFERENT.”
You'll need some pico di gallo, a cup of sour cream, and a cup of prepared guacamole, along with the requisite chips, limes, your favorite salsa and Tums on the side!
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef chuck (20% fat)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium jalapeno, seeded, stemmed, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 large poblano chile, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded, ribs and stem removed, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 12oz Mexican Beer (or 1 1/2 cup milk)
½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
½ pound young medium or sharp cheddar cheese, or better yet, VELVEETA, grated (that's what I used, and highly recommend)
Pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, chopped chives, chopped cilantro, and corn chips (for serving)
Heat oil in a large skillet over high. Cook beef, breaking up with a spoon, until browned on all sides but not completely cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, leaving as much fat in pan as possible.
Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, jalapeno, and garlic, stirring, until tender but not browned, 6–8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add cumin and chili powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock and the ground beef along with any accumulated juices to pan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the skillet, until liquid is evaporated, 8–10 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, let sit until ready to use. Sprinkle with the fresh lime juice.
Do Ahead: Picadillo can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat before assembling.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, poblano, jalapeño, and garlic, stirring, until tender but not browned, 8–10 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with salt, and continue to cook until juices have evaporated, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until incorporated, about 1 minute. Whisk in the beer or milk and continue to cook until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low, gradually add both cheeses, and cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is completely melted and queso is smooth. If it seems too thick, stir in a little more milk or beer.
Spread warm picadillo in a 2-qt. baking dish. Pour hot queso over meat. Top with a generous scoop each of pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. Sprinkle with chives and cilantro. Serve hot dip with chips.
Do Ahead: Queso can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat before assembling.
KIDDOCJJ Tip: I quadrupled the recipe for my Derby de Mayo party and served the queso in my crockpot, with the meat, guacamole, and pico de gallo and chips on the side. Guests could ladle the queso into little bowls, with their desired toppings....or better yet, into a warm tortilla for a mouthful full of BUENO!