While in Texas recently, I visited a few of the well-stocked Mexican markets for some of my favorite spices and dried chiles. One of my favorite dried chiles is the morita chile. It’s extra smoky and spicy. It’s very much like the dried chipotle pepper, just a bit darker with a slightly softer skin. One of the best ways to incorporate it into a recipe is in a cooked salsa. In this case, the cooked salsa would become the braising liquid for my slow-cooker version of carne guisada. And being that I am recently home from Texas, I was craving a big bowl of nachos with a spicy queso sauce. This will make a great addition to gameday menu or for weekend movie night.
Yields 6 servings
For the Chile Morita Beef:
2 chuck or flat iron steaks (1 1/2 pounds), diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, minced
4 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons chicken or beef bouillon powder
2 bay leaves
2 Roma tomatoes
4 dried chiles morita, remove seeds and membranes
*If you cannot find chile morita, use instead 2 chipotles in adobo
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Extra salt and pepper (to taste)
For the Spicy Queso:
3 tablespoons butter
1-2 teaspoons chile pepper flakes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons hot sauce such as Tapatío or Cholula
1 teaspoon chile limon powder
4 full cups colby jack cheese, shredded
You Will Also Need:
1 pound thick corn tortilla chips, preferably homemade
*the quantities on these garnishes below are to taste
Pickled jalapeños, sliced
Green onions, sliced
Your favorite fresh salsa recipe
Tips~ After beef has cooked, if the chile morita sauce is too thin, whisk 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water until smooth. While beef is still cooking, stir it into the slow cooker until well incorporated. Cook on high for another 30 minutes.
1. In a skillet, preheat (2 minutes) 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium/high heat. Add the beef and season with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Toss to combine and cook until the beef browns nicely. Add the onions, garlic and serrano and cook for 3 more minutes. Transfer to slow cooker, add 5 cups of water, bouillon and bay leaves. Cover and turn heat to high.
2. In a sauce pan, add the tomatoes, tomatillos and chile morita. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ingredients to the blender. Add 1/3 cup of cooking water, cover and blend on high until smooth. Pour blended salsa into slow cooker. Season with cumin and oregano and salt to taste. Keep covered and continue cooking for 4 hours on high.
3. While beef is cooking, in a separate sauce pan, heat the 3 tablespoons of butter to medium heat. Once butter melts, wisk in the flour until smooth. Cook, whisking as needed for one minute. Add the red chile pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the room temperature milk. Cook, whisking often until sauce becomes thick, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce and chile limon powder. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the shredded cheese until sauce is smooth. Set aside. If it’s not smooth, heat on low and stir until smooth.
4. Once beef is tender and seasoned to your liking, reheat the spicy queso until melted and creamy. You can plate the nachos on a big serving platter layered with spicy queso, chile morita beef, fresh salsa and garnishes. Or for smaller parties, you can let your guest serve them up in individual bowls and top as desired.