Christmas Queso from Felix Restaurant - an old Houston tradition!
We all have our holiday traditions and one of ours from my earliest years was eating really greasy Chile con Queso at the Suman's annual Christmas Party. The Suman's dining table had the same menu every year - smoked turkey, venison, durkee's, cranberry sauce, mayo, Ritz crackers with a dish of peanut butter and dish of jalepeno jelly on the side, explosive eggnog, lots of desserts and Felix Restaurant Chile con Queso in a chafing dish accompanied by a big bowl of tortilla chips. Strange I know, but it worked and the tableau screams Christmas to me just as much as snowy landscapes and jingle bells.
My mother and I were just discussing our Christmas Eve menu this afternoon and the subject of Felix's queso came up. Felix was a Houston culinary landmark. Basic Tex-Mex and good margaritas. Many an old-guard family celebration was held here - but the tradition died a few years back when Felix closed its doors. We mourned the closing - a old time favorite gone forever - along with the likes of Leo's Mexican Restaurant, Captain John's Seafood on West Gray and the venerable San Jacinto Inn.
Behold the power of the Internets!! While on the phone with Mom, I googled "felix chile con queso" and not only found the dang recipe, but also a story from the Houston Press about how another Houston institution - El Patio - now serves the original Felix queso! So - in case you need something new (or in my case, old) on your holiday table, here is the recipe!
Ho HO HO!
Felix's Chili Con Queso
Recipe By : Houston Chronicle, May 1997
Serving Size : 1 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Appetizers Dips
Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ----------- --------------------------------
1/2 cup vegetable oil (see note)
1 onion -- chopped
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup canned tomatoes
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1.5 t sugar
2 T paprika
garlic powder to taste
1/4 cup each: flour and water
1/2 pound american cheese -- grated (2 cups)
Combine oil, onion, salt, pepper, tomatoes, cayenne, sugar, paprika and garlic powder in heavy pot and simmer 25 to 30 minutes over medium heat. Mix flour and water in small bowl; add to onion mixture gradually, stirring until smooth and thick. Add cheese, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Cook until well-blended and smooth. Serve warm with tortilla chips. Note: Some readers omit the oil because they think the cheese has enough fat. If so, sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons hot oil to soften. This longtime Houston favorite from Felix Mexican Restaurant has been reprinted many times in the Chronicle. A similar recipe attributed to Felix's appears in the Houston Junior Forum cookbook, Buffet on the Bayou ($17.95), but the sugar is omitted and paprika increased to 3 tablespoons. Houston Chronicle, May, 1997.
LP's note: This is most everyone's favorite chili con queso. My friend Cyn says it's the flour. Most recipes don't call for it. Her's is a bit different from this - more like the Buffet on the Bayou version. She claims to have gotten it from Felix's in Beaumont. According to her, it freezes well.