Mexican Cheese Crisps (Chicharrónes de Queso)
Iain Bagwell
Yields6 ServingsCook Time1 hr 15 mins
AuthorJimmy Shaw, ¡Lotería! Grill, Hollywood

Blocks from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood location of ¡Lotería! Grill wows guests with chicharrón de queso shaped into a golden pyramid. Executive chef Jimmy Shaw and team cook the Mexico City-style treats on a giant griddle; for guaranteed success at home, we baked smaller versions on parchment. Shaw says to think of them like a huge version of the toasted cheese you get when your grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla spills onto the griddle. You can break it off to use as a chip, crumble it into a tortilla, or add it to a salad.

How to Make It

1

Preheat oven to 350°. On a piece of parchment paper big enough to line a rimmed baking sheet, draw a 10-in. circle with a pencil. Make 5 more and put all 6 aside. Set baking sheet in oven until hot. Combine cilantro and onion in a small bowl.

2

Set 1 piece of parchment paper on a work surface, pencil side down. Evenly scatter 1/2 cup plus 2 to 3 tbsp. cheese over circle (it won’t be covered completely). Chill remaining cheese. Remove baking sheet from oven and carefully set parchment paper with cheese on top.

3

Bake cheese until bubbling and starting to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Scatter 2 tsp. cilantro-onion mixture on top. Rotate pan 180° and continue to bake until chicharrón is an even deep gold, 4 to 4 1/2 minutes more. Remove pan from oven.

4

Quickly blot fat from chicharrón with a paper towel. Slide a wide spatula under chicharrón to loosen all the way to center. Lift it with spatula and, using tongs, fold in half so edges meet; then gently fold in half again into a loose party-hat shape. If not yet crunchy, briefly hold in air with tongs, then stand it up on a cool baking sheet.

5

Repeat to make more chicharrónes, using a hot baking sheet and fresh piece of parchment for each one; to save time, stagger a second batch to go into the oven just after you sprinkle the first with cilantro-onion mixture.

6

Serve with salsas, guacamole, and tortillas if you like.

MAKE AHEAD Through step 5, cooled, draped with foil, and chilled up to 1 day; recrisp in a 300° oven until slightly warm, 45 to 60 seconds (no longer, or they’ll collapse).

Ingredients

 2 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
 2 tbsp finely chopped white onion
 12 oz cold Monterey jack cheese, coarsely shredded (don’t buy pre-shredded; it won’t melt evenly), divided
 Pico de gallo, salsa verde, and guacamole, for serving
 Corn tortillas, for serving (optional)

Directions

1

Preheat oven to 350°. On a piece of parchment paper big enough to line a rimmed baking sheet, draw a 10-in. circle with a pencil. Make 5 more and put all 6 aside. Set baking sheet in oven until hot. Combine cilantro and onion in a small bowl.

2

Set 1 piece of parchment paper on a work surface, pencil side down. Evenly scatter 1/2 cup plus 2 to 3 tbsp. cheese over circle (it won’t be covered completely). Chill remaining cheese. Remove baking sheet from oven and carefully set parchment paper with cheese on top.

3

Bake cheese until bubbling and starting to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Scatter 2 tsp. cilantro-onion mixture on top. Rotate pan 180° and continue to bake until chicharrón is an even deep gold, 4 to 4 1/2 minutes more. Remove pan from oven.

4

Quickly blot fat from chicharrón with a paper towel. Slide a wide spatula under chicharrón to loosen all the way to center. Lift it with spatula and, using tongs, fold in half so edges meet; then gently fold in half again into a loose party-hat shape. If not yet crunchy, briefly hold in air with tongs, then stand it up on a cool baking sheet.

5

Repeat to make more chicharrónes, using a hot baking sheet and fresh piece of parchment for each one; to save time, stagger a second batch to go into the oven just after you sprinkle the first with cilantro-onion mixture.

6

Serve with salsas, guacamole, and tortillas if you like.

MAKE AHEAD Through step 5, cooled, draped with foil, and chilled up to 1 day; recrisp in a 300° oven until slightly warm, 45 to 60 seconds (no longer, or they’ll collapse).

Mexican Cheese Crisps (Chicharrónes de Queso)