Tequila-Infused Queso Fundido
In this queso fundido, the tequila not only shines through with its agave brightness, but gives the melted cheese a luscious texture. Seared salsa ingredients (tomato, onion, chile, cilantro) mingle with unctuous cheese, the whole thing shot through with that unmistakable scent of silver tequila. Queso fundido needs to be eaten as soon as it's made, either spooned into warm tortillas for soft tacos or scooped up with chips.
1 Tbs. olive or vegetable oil
1 large ripe tomato, cored, seeded (if you wish) and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Hot green chile(s) to taste (roughly 1 large jalapeño or 2 large serranos), stemmed, seeded (if you wish) and finely chopped
3 Tbs. tequila, preferably a silver tequila
8 oz. Mexican melting cheese (such as Chihuahua, quesadilla or asadero) or Monterey Jack, mild cheddar or brick, shredded (you'll have about 2 cups)
1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off)
Prepare the flavorings. Heat the oil in a large (10-inch) skillet over medium-high. Add the tomato, onion and chile(s), and cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the onion begins to soften and brown, about 7 minutes. Add the tequila and cook, stirring, for a minute or so, until reduced to a glaze. (If you tip the pan toward an open gas flame, the tequila will ignite. If you choose this route, simply shake the pan back and forth until the flames subside and the tequila has reduced to a glaze.)
Finish the queso fundido. With the skillet of tequila-infused vegetables over medium-low, sprinkle in the cheese. Stir slowly and constantly until just melted-too long over the heat and the cheese will become tough, oily and stringy. Scoop into a warm dish, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve right away with tortillas for making soft tacos or chips to dip.
Make Ahead Tips
A small fondue pot set over a tea light can keep the cheese attractively fluid for a few minutes longer than a warm serving bowl.