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Gentlemen, BEHOLD! The Power Of Chupaqueso!

15 February, 2005 (16:57) | Random, Stuff I Done Did | By: hitch

Well, I was planning on going home now…but since I’m not, I’m going to post something that’s been percolating in the back of my head for a while now.

A good long while back (about a year or so) I started making a cheese dish called a “chupaqueso“. The idea is credited to Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary semi-fame and the original recipe is all his. I’ve seen others post their take on it, but usually its all simple refinements to the original idea. Sometime in the last month, though, I’ve started making wholesale changes to the recipe. The basic idea remains the same – make a cheese “crust” or “shell” and fill it. The “original recipe chupaqueso” merely gets filled with more cheese – Jack cheese inside a cheddar crust to be specific – with the occasional bacon to spice it up. Something, however, seemed to be lacking. And so I present to you, loyal reader, my take on the mighty Chupaqueso.

First, if you’ve never made this before, grate a lot of cheddar cheese. Fresh grated (or, at least, home grated) works better than the stuff you buy in bags, mostly because you’re likely to get a better quality cheese. (Not to mention lowering the overall cost of the dish). You’re going to want to grate a lot for two reasons – first, you’re probably going to screw this up the first time, and second, once you get it right, you’ll want to make it again. And again. And-oh, you get the idea.
Let the cheese sit while you gather your hardware.
You’re going to need:

  • A medium sized non-stick skillet or pan.
  • We’ve been using our 12″ nonstick skillet recently, but our 10″ nonstick pan worked just fine. The skillet is nice because you can get under the edge of the cheese easily, but the pan is nice because you can employ a grease guard.
  • A spatula suitable for use with nonstick pans
    • As thin and flexible as possible – we’ve been using the Good Grips spatulae. I’m still looking for a better one, but it works better than anything else I’ve found so far.
  • A stove
  • The software:

    • Grated cheddar cheese
    • Again, grate it yourself. It’s worth it.
  • Another kind of cheese, also grated.
    • Sorry to be so vague there, but it really is a matter of taste. The official recipe calls for Jack, and that’s honestly what I prefer, but that’s by no means your only limitation. I have found, though, that you want something that will melt quickly and less grease is usually better.
  • Anything else you want to put into the mix.
    • I like Salsa here…Mr. Tayler recommends crumbled bacon, but I’ve found that that’s usually not as amazing as I expected (maybe I’m using too much cheese or not enough bacon). I’ve yet to experiment with many other things, but I’m going to say sky’s the limit as far as this goes. If it goes with cheese, go for it.

    The process is not complicated, but the timing is critical.
    Put the pan over medium-high heat (or high heat, if you’re using an electric oven) and let it heat for a short period of time (not too long, as you don’t want the non-stick fumes getting out) , then arrange the shredded cheddar on the pan in a rough circle, putting down just enough to keep the pan from showing through. The size of the circle is going to determine a lot of things, from cooking time to just how much food you’ve got there. Filling an entire 10″ pan is going to make this more of a meal than a snack, so be careful or split it with a friend.

    As the cheese begins to melt, it will start to sizzle – and as long as there are no gaping holes, resist the temptation to add more cheese or touch it, as you’ll change the cooking time and/or muck up your spatula. Don’t touch! NO! Wait…waaaaiiit…..WAIT FOR IT!!!

    Okay – do you see the cheese starting to slightly brown around the edges? (and I do mean slightly. it will happen fast, and you have to be watching for it) Good. Take your spatula and slowly slide it under the cheese disc, gently testing it for structural integrity. If it feels like you can flip it over without having it fold up on itself (or you think you can do it fast enough without having grease fly all over the place), flip it. The key at this point is patience. If you’re not sure it’s ready to go, wait another minute. Obviously waiting too long will earn you a big, round, cheese cracker, but it would be worse if you ended up with a pile of cheese goo and no way to stuff it. And yes, that’s happened to me numerous times. Fry it on the other side for just long enough to set the cheese there and quickly flip it back.

    How long is just long enough? You have to find out for yourself. It varies depending on how long you cooked the first side, how deep the cheese is, how big around the disc is, and a hundred other variables.

    Now is the time to work fast. Hopefully you’ve read this whole thing in advance and have everything prepped and ready, because if you don’t, you’re out of luck. As soon as you’ve flipped the cheese tortilla-like thing back to its original orientation, spread the non-cheddar cheese down a line describing the diameter of the circle. put on as much as you think you can wrap the shell around, but don’t waste any time here. Wait too long and you’ve got cheese-toast. Now is also the time to integrate salsa, meats (made good use of leftover pork tenderloin this way once), spices (ground red pepper flakes for me….sometimes hot sauce), or whatever else you like. Nothing too runny, as it will come out when you bite into it, but gooey is good.

    Fold the cheese shell like a burrito (it’s too firm? you waited too long), though flipping in the ends is usually no big deal (let alone possible). You really just want a tube of this shell filled with all your ingredients. Let it cook just long enough to melt the cheese inside, perhaps another minute or two, and then slide it out of the pan and onto a plate. Make sure the plate is big enough that the grease doesn’t drip out onto the counter.

    Eat as soon as it’s cool enough to put into your mouth.

    Is it healthy? well…no, not really. But I look at it this way – if you’d eaten that same amount of food, unprepared, look at all the extra fat you’d be putting into your body. You’re really making this stuff MORE healthy by frying it (amazing, no?). And the applications for the fried cheddar discs are really amazing. Crack them up to use in dips instead of chips – on a low-carb diet and craving something crunchy? Make a chupaqueso shell and don’t fold it. It tastes like the best cheez-it you ever had, and it’s actually made from CHEESE.

    I hope that we’ve inspired you here today to take fried cheese into your own hands, and down into your gullet. If there’s one thing you take away from this, I hope that you remember that chupaquesos are…go[text removed to ensure no copyright infringement]ts. Alton Brown is probably rolling over in his theoretical grave.


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    Time 3/17/2005 at 12:33 am

    […] ause I couldn’t bring myself to swallow it. On the other hand, it makes a wonderful Chupaqueso. I think we can kick this back up to B-. Posted By: hitch@7:33 pm | Category: C […]

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