Tomato and Real del Castillo Queso Fundido with Soy Chorizo
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One ingredient that’s *always* invited to dinner at our place? Cheese. Here, it gets the spotlight it deserves in this tomato and Real del Castillo queso fundido with soy chorizo from Michael Gardiner’s new book, Cali-Baja Cuisine: Tijuana Tacos, Ensenada Aguachiles, San Diego Cali Burritos + More.
Gardiner’s childhood love for fondue inspired this decadent recipe. “Whether dipping bread in a cauldron of cheese or skewered meat morsels in boiling oil, there was always something fun and festive about this Swiss way of dining,” he writes. “Until recently, it didn’t occur to me that Mexico had an adopted (and adapted) cousin of cheese fondue: queso fundido. Here, I use Valle de Guadalupe white wine along with one of Mexico’s best cheeses, Real del Castillo cheese from the Ramonetti Cheese factory at La Cava de Marcelo in Ojos Negros, east of Ensenada.”
If you can’t find the Real del Castillo cheese near you, raclette, Oaxaca and Monterey Jack are all solid substitutes. As for the chorizo, feel free to use Mexican-style pork chorizo instead of soy if you aren’t vegetarian. Serve with soft flour tortillas or crispy tortilla chips and dip to your heart’s content.
Recipes excerpted from Cali-Baja Cuisine: Tijuana Tacos, Ensenada Aguachiles, San Diego Cali Burritos + More, by Michael Gardiner. Rizzoli, 2023. Reprinted with permission. Photography by Cintia Soto.
For the Queso
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1⅔ cups tomato passata, such as Colavita or Cento (or use puréed tomatoes)
½ cup white wine, such as Monte Xanic Chenin Colombard
2¼ cups grated Ramonetti Real del Castillo cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
9 ounces loose soy chorizo
10 attractive cilantro leaves
1 pound tortilla chips, freshly fried, baked or store-bought
1. Roughly grate the garlic and rub the grated garlic around the inside of a pot large enough to hold at least six cups and place over medium heat. Pour in the passata and wine and bring to a boil.
2. Add a handful of the cheese. Once that cheese is melted, add another handful and repeat until all the cheese is melted. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make a slurry by whisking the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir in the slurry to slightly thicken the fondue. Add the oregano and stir to combine. Taste the queso fundido and, if desired, season with salt and pepper.
3. Cook the soy chorizo in a large sauté pan over medium heat until crumbly. Drain the fat into a heatproof container.
4. Garnish the queso fundido in the pot with the soy chorizo and cilantro leaves. Serve in the pot on top of a metal stand or hot pad with the tortilla chips for dipping.