When my friend and fellow food nerd Kourtney Paranteau reached out to me in the hopes of developing a recipe for Boat Sauce using ddukbokki, the dense and chewy rice cakes of Korean cuisine, I was all in. From Kourtney:
I sent away for a DNA ancestry kit and they sent me this recipe back as my results. A midway point between Korean ddukboki and American mac-n-cheese, this extra-savory recipe packs the heat and tooth of the former dish with the casserole-comfort and cheesy-ooze of the latter. A suitable side for everything from BBQ’ed meats to Thanksgiving dinner, I’m never ashamed of the evenings I cook dduk-n-cheese as my main dish either.
Because I’m striving for this dish to be a Hapa masterpiece, I prefer Bobbie’s Boat Sauce in Hot to nod to a classic ddukboki’s gochujang punch, but if you’re heat-adverse Bobbie’s Boat Sauce Classic works too.
Long curious to know if it was possible to make a smooth and consistent queso dip without Velveeta, I started playing with this Boat Sauce queso recipe a few years ago, and after finding this helpful article from the folks at Serious Eats, I always have a can of evaporated milk in the pantry. Just in case.
When it came to making a Boat Sauce queso dip, I didn't just want to make an improvement on the classic Ro-Tel and Velveeta (purists would argue there's no improvements to make there). So I employed dried spanish chorizo, onions, and some roasted red New Mexico chiles from Los Roast (green would also be great). These are mere suggestions, you can go in any direction, or just keep it classic by adding 1-4 Tbs of your favorite Boat Sauce to the basic recipe.
One pointer: Don't buy shredded cheese. It's treated with stuff to keep it from clumping, which also will keep it from melting the way you want.
Lastly: this isn't just a dip, this is also the base of your favorite new "loose" macaroni and cheese recipe! If you follow this recipe and just fold into an entire box of cooked pasta, you will be eternally revered. I know I am, to myself.
Growing up in Connecticut places you right in the center of a chowder war zone: creamy, buttery, New England to the northeast, tomato-and-vegetable heavy Manhattan to the southwest, and the dark horse, brothy Rhode Island Chowder directly east of the Nutmeg State. Sadly, there are more bad versions of each of these than good ones. Thinking of all the things I like and don't like about chowder, I decided to scrap the idea of paying homage to the East Coast, and create something novelly regional : Portland Chowder.
You don't need a slow cooker for this recipe; if you have a heavy, oven-proof pot, you could cook this for hours at 300 (just cook until the grains are cooked but still a bit chewy). Freeze the rinds of every wedge of Parmesan you buy, and you will quickly amass pounds for occasions like this. The vegetables in this recipe are a suggestion, but you could add or subtract nearly anything.