Why does this always happen in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl?
Last year our chicken wings were threatened, and this year our Velveeta. How much is the football fan supposed to endure?
OK, let’s all calm down.
It’s pretty rare that I will issue a battle cry for one of the most processed of all foods. But when it comes to game day, even I fall victim to the creamy combination of Velveeta and a can of Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles, otherwise known as queso dip.
I am happy to report that despite national reports, there is no shortage of Velveeta locally.
In fact, I walked into one local grocery store and saw a very large display of the bright yellow loaves stacked high. You know it’s a processed cheese food when it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.
I’ve asked the honchos from Acme Fresh Markets and Giant Eagle grocery stores, and both of them tell me there will be plenty on hand for all of our queso-dip-making needs for the playoffs and the Big Game on Feb. 2.
In fact, when they heard about the potential shortage, Acme Vice President Jim Trout said his folks checked on the warehouse supplies and ordered some more just to be certain there would be enough to get us through football season.
“Acme has plenty in stock,” he assured.
Dan Donovan, spokesman for Giant Eagle, also said his stores were not having any problems getting the loaf. “Currently, we are not being notably impacted by the reported Velveeta shortage,” was his official report.
Was this just a scare tactic by Kraft to boost sales?
Ad Age first reported the shortage in stores on the East Coast. Then NBC News obtained copies of two memos sent to grocery wholesalers last fall warning of limited supplies of Velveeta in the early winter, due to a move of production lines over the summer.
According to NBC, the memos note that the 1-pound loaf could have limited availability through the end of February. A Kraft spokeswoman has confirmed the memos and the potential shortage.
Which is why I am happy to report that apparently the Akron area won’t have to suffer the effects of a Super Bowl without cheese dip.
But as always, let’s keep in mind that there is always an alternative to buying and consuming highly processed foods, and that would be making it from scratch.
So here’s a recipe for doing just that. Remember, because you are making it from scratch, you can adjust the heat up or down to suit your personal preference.
This recipe was adapted from chef Matt Martinez’s Culinary Frontier: A Real Texas Cookbook (Doubleday, 1997).
CHILE CON QUESO
1 tbsp. canola oil
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
½ cup finely chopped jalapeño (you can use canned green chiles if you prefer; just add them with the tomatoes)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. granulated garlic or garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
8 oz. American cheese, preferably white American (if all you can find are the singles, stack them up and cut into little blocks)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
Using a heavy pot, heat the oil on medium-high and sauté the onion, jalapeño, and dry ingredients for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the broth and heat 3 to 4 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken, then add the cheese and tomatoes. Carefully simmer the queso on low heat for 3 to 5 minutes, adjusting its thickness to suit your taste by adding broth or cheese. Serve hot and keep warm, stirring every so often to avoid it forming a skin over top.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
— Adapted from Matt Martinez’s Culinary Frontier: A Real Texas Cookbook, by Matt Martinez Jr. and Steve Pate