Chili con Queso and Phili Cheese Steak – made perfect

Velveeta Cheese rediscovered: Chili con Queso Dip.

Did I hear there’s a shortage of Velveeta Cheese? It appears that Velveeta’s version of the Chili con Queso dip is having a resurgence in popularity.

People living in the 1930s-1970s grew up on Velveeta cheese, a uniquely American product. Its brick shape made it easy to slice for school lunches, it melted without separating and proved to be easy and economical for a large family.

Here’s a 1960-1970 version of the popular dip.

phillycheeseandvelvettadip 016Chili con Queso: Alma Tessendore, P.E.O. recipe book, 1960-1970

  • 1 4 oz. can Ortega peppers, chopped, (2 cans for extra heat or add jalapenos)
  • 1 lb. 2 oz. tomatoes, drained and chopped well  (use 14.5 oz. can for less tomato taste)
  • 1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 tablespoons minced onion

Warm on stove until cheese melts. Then put in a chafing dish or fondue pot & keep warm. Dip with corn chips. Today we have the added convenience of the microwave for melting and a wider selection of chips to serve with the dip.

Other Uses: grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, a substitute for shredded Jack cheese in enchilada recipe, sauce for nachos, cheese sauce for vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and Frito Boats, which soon followed Chili con Queso in popularity.

Since it contains less than 51% milk, cheese critics might eliminate Velveeta from their list. It’s a matter of taste. After all it’s been around for 86 years. First produced in 1908 by Caleb Hommel in Monroe, New York, it was sold to Kraft Foods in 1927.

phillycheeseandvelvettadip 012In the 1930s, Velveeta became the first cheese product to gain the American Medical Association‘s seal of approval for nutrition but it was renamed as a cheese spread in 1953.

Frito Boats: In individual bowls, begin with a bottom layer of Fritos or use individual bags of Fritos. Add layers of chili beans, chili con queso sauce or shredded Velveeta cheese, chopped onions and Ortega chilies or olives. Crush the bag slightly to distribute the flavors. Eat with a spoon.

phillycheeseandvelvettadip 008Cheez Whiz and the Phili Cheese Steak:

The Phili Cheese Steak was doing just fine before Cheez Whiz, a Velveeta offspring. But since its entry into the food market in 1952, it has now been and will forever be associated with the cheesesteak.  A quote from a devoted cheesesteak aficionado:

“A proper cheesesteak consists of provolone or Cheez Whiz slathered on a fresh roll and stuffed with thinly shaved grilled meat.” Additions include but are not limited to: onions, sautéed peppers, mushrooms, mayonnaise, hot sauce, salt, pepper and ketchup. Ketchup? Really? I’m not sure about that one.

Feats with meats

For juicier burgers, add one stiffly beaten egg white to each pound of hamburger. Or make patties with one tablespoon of cottage cheese* in center. Mary Ellen’s Best of Helpful Kitchen Hints, 1980.

*A thought: Substitute one tablespoon of Cheez Whiz or a cube of Velveeta instead of cottage cheese.

One thought on “Chili con Queso and Phili Cheese Steak – made perfect

  • January 16, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    I know Ketchup does not sound good, but my brother in law a philly native talked me in to trying it one day and now I wont have a cheese steak without it.

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