Queso Fundido Con Pollo
A party dip, a fondue, or a casserole—this over-the-top queso fundido has something in common with all of them. It features queso Oaxaca, the tangy Mexican string cheese, which bubbles over a layer of toasted chilies, shredded chicken, and a creamy sauce infused with allspice. At Doña Tomás, they like to serve it with a refreshing Paloma Cocktail: run a lime around the rim of a highball glass and dip it in salt spiked with ground chilies. Fill the glass with ice, add 1½ ounces of Reposado tequila, and top with a squirt of soda and a wedge of lime, squeezed, and dropped into the glass.
THE SAUCE: In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the cream, allspice, and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until reduced by one-third. Pass through a fine mesh strainer to remove any film, and set aside to cool.
THE FILLING: Cut the chilies into ½-by-2-inch strips. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until translucent, lowering the heat if necessary.
Add the chili strips and the chicken, and gently stir until evenly mixed. Season with salt and remove from heat.
Preheat the broiler. In an 8-by-10-inch casserole, spread the chicken mixture in an even layer. Spread the cream sauce on top. Cover with cheese. Place the casserole under the broiler for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the ingredients have melted together and the top is lightly browned. Remove from the broiler and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately, with the warm tortillas.
CHEATS: Pre-cooked store bought chicken and good quality tortilla chips will make quick work of this dish.
DO-AHEAD: The sauce and the filling can be made in advance and kept covered and refrigerated overnight. Let them sit out at room temperature about an hour before broiling.
By Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky,
Doña Tomás restaurant, Oakland, Calif.