Fried chicken is an essential part of my husband’s annual birthday feast. This may be the best version I’ve ever made. Not only was the meat incredibly tender from the lemony and garlicky brine, the seasoning in the crispy coating was super delicious as well. Fabulous.
The recipe was first published in Food and Wine in 2007 and then updated and re-published as a staff-favorite recipe in 2022. It was contributed by Thomas Keller who serves it every other Monday at his restaurant Ad Hoc in Napa Valley. The recipe was adapted from his book Ad Hoc at Home.
I adapted the recipe by modifying the method and proportions, and by substituting boneless, skinless chicken thighs for bone-in chicken pieces. I brined the chicken the day that I fried it. I also used a countertop electric skillet to more easily maintain an even cooking temperature- absolutely life changing. (Thank you to my Mother-in-Law for giving it to me!)
I made 15 chicken thighs- enough to have leftovers for days. That’s how we like to extend birthday celebrations in my house. 🙂 I included instructions on how to successfully re-heat the chicken below.
10 to 15 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
For the Seasoned Flour & To Finish the Dish:
3 cups (about 12.75 oz) all-purpose flour
2 T garlic powder
2 T onion powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 cups whole buttermilk
about 2 quarts canola or peanut oil, for frying
fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish
fine sea salt or ground fleur de sel, for garnish
To Brine the Chicken:
In a large bowl, combine the water and salt; stir until dissolved.
Pour the salt water into a 2 gallon zip-top bag inside a large pot. (I used a stainless pasta pot.) Add the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, parsley, and lemon halves; stir to combine.
Add the trimmed boneless, skinless chicken thighs, being sure they’re completely submerged; seal the bag. Refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours. (Do not refrigerate for longer than 12 hours or the chicken may become too salty.)
Remove chicken thighs from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the meat. Discard the brine.
Let the chicken stand until it comes to room temperature, about 30 to 45 minutes.
To Coat and Cook the Chicken:
Fill a 12-inch electric skillet with about 2 quarts of oil; heat to 320-325 degrees. (Alternatively, fill a large pot with oil to a depth of 2 inches; heat over medium to medium-high to 320 degrees.)
Set a wire rack over a foil and paper towel-lined, rimmed, baking sheet. Reserve for cooked chicken.
Line a second rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Reserve for raw chicken.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Divide the mixture between two glass pie dishes (about 1 1/2 cups each).
Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
Working with one chicken thigh at a time, dip the chicken in the first bowl of flour; turn to coat and pat off excess. Dip into buttermilk, letting excess drip back into the bowl. Dip into the second dish of the flour mixture.
Transfer the coated chicken to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining pieces. (I continued to do this while simultaneously starting to cook some of the chicken thighs.)
Carefully lower the chicken thighs into the hot oil, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 320 degrees. (I cooked 3 thighs at a time.)
Cook for 2 minutes, and the carefully turn over using tongs, continuing to cook and turn as needed for even browning. (I had 1 set of tongs for transferring the raw chicken and 1 set of tongs to turn the chicken while cooking.)
The chicken is cooked when it is a deep golden brown, very crisp, and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion reads 165 degrees, about 9 minutes total.
Transfer the cooked chicken to the prepared wire rack set over the lined baking sheet. Let it rest while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Sprinkle with fine sea salt to taste, if desired.
Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs or chopped herbs. (Alternatively, the rosemary and thyme can be cooked in the hot oil for a few seconds before being used as a garnish.)
Serve hot or at room temperature.
The original recipe recommends cooking chicken breasts and wings at 340 degrees, if using instead of thighs or drumsticks.
If using bone-in skin-on chicken (the best meat-to-crust ratio is achieved using 2 1/2 to 3 pound whole chickens), let the pieces rest skin-side up. Modify the cooking time as needed to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees (about 12 minutes for thighs and drumsticks, 7 minutes for breasts, and 6 minutes for wings).
To reheat leftover fried chicken do not be tempted to use a microwave! Reheat uncovered, placed on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Vallery Lomas. I modified the method and proportions. I forgot the scallion garnish- an issue that I have on holidays. Fantastic nonetheless.
Yield: Serves 6
For the Grits:
3 cups whole or reduced-fat milk (see Tip)
6 T unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp or sharp Cheddar (I used New Zealand Sharp Cheddar)
For the Shrimp:
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used tail-on 21-25 count shrimp)
2 1/2 tsp Creole seasoning (see Tip) (I used Slap Ya Mama)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces Andouille sausage, diced (I used Aidells)
1 medium or large yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 green bell peppers, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
21 oz San Marzano tomatoes with juice (about 3/4 of a 28 oz can)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
hot sauce, for serving, optional
2 T thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
To Prepare the Grits:
Bring 3 cups water, milk, butter, salt, and grits to a simmer in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk, turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 25 to 30 minutes.
After the resting period, return the pot to low heat. (At this point, start preparing the shrimp.)
Intermittently, stir while the grits begin to thicken and become creamy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add additional water a few tablespoons at a time if the grits thicken before they are cooked. When stirring, be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot to prevent the grits from sticking and burning.
When the grits are done, remove from the heat and stir in the pepper and cheese.
Taste to adjust seasoning, adding up to an additional 1/2 teaspoon more salt, if desired.
To Prepare the Shrimp:
Pat the shrimp dry. Toss them in a medium bowl with the Creole seasoning; set aside.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. (I used a 14-inch stainless steel skillet.)
Add the diced sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until the fat has rendered and the sausage is crispy along the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Working in batches, add the shrimp and cook about 1 1/2 minutes each side, until cooked through. Transfer the shrimp to the plate with the sausage.
Add the diced onion and bell pepper to the skillet, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and stock, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon.
Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add shrimp and sausage and cook until hot, about 1 minute.
Turn off the heat and swirl in the sour cream. Taste to adjust seasoning, adding salt or pepper as needed.
Serve immediately, topped with the hot shrimp mixture. Finish with a few dashes of hot sauce, if desired, and a sprinkling of scallions.
For a more savory profile, prepare the grits in 6 cups of low-sodium chicken stock instead of water and milk.
If you don’t have Creole seasoning, you can combine 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) and 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne.
This beautiful breakfast pastry uses store-bought puff pastry as a shortcut. I loved the crushed dried blueberries sprinkled over the top.
I served this pastry as part of our Easter brunch along with my favorite brunch dish, Asparagus, Leek and Gruyere Quiche. We also had fruit and green salads, cheeses with crackers and warm bread, hummus with vegetables, nuts, and sliced kielbasa.
This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Anna Theoktisto. I modified the method and proportions. The combination of blueberries and lemon was bright and delicious.
The pastry is ideally served warm, but I made it a day in advance, refrigerated it overnight, and served it at room temperature. Still great. It could also be reheated prior to serving.
Yield: Two 5×12-inch Pastries (about 8 to 10 servings)
1 (18.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed (I used Trader Joe’s)
all-purpose flour, for dusting
5.2 ounces cream cheese (such as Philadelphia), at room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
5 to 6 T blueberry preserves (I used Stonewall Kitchen)
scant 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg
1 T water
2 T whole milk
2 T whole freeze-dried blueberries, crushed
Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon zest and juice with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed, gradually increasing mixer speed to medium-high, until mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Measure 1/3 cup cream cheese mixture into a separate medium bowl; set aside for icing.
Unroll thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. (I used a pastry mat instead.) Cut pastry in half lengthwise; place 1 pastry half on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with second roll of pastry on second baking sheet.
Divide remaining cream cheese mixture in half. Spoon one ration of the mixture in a 1 1/2-inch-wide strip lengthwise down the middle of each pastry half on the prepared baking sheets, leaving a 1-inch border along short pastry edges.
Stir together preserves and cornstarch in a small bowl. Divide the mixture into fourths.
Spoon each ration of the preserves mixture evenly along the long edges of both cream cheese strips (about 1 1/2 tablespoons per side), leaving a 1-inch border on each long side.
Beat together egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Brush border of topped pastry lightly with egg mixture; reserve remaining egg mixture.
Place remaining pastry half on top of filled pastry, pressing edges firmly to seal.
Chill until firm, about 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. (I set my oven to true convection.)
Brush chilled pastry lightly with reserved egg mixture. Using a paring knife, cut 5 small (about 1-inch) slits on top of pastry.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and evenly puffed, 40 minutes on convection or up to 45 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.
Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack; let pastry cool 10 minutes.
Place freeze-dried blueberries in a zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin.
Whisk milk into reserved 1/3 cup cream cheese mixture until smooth.
Drizzle icing over warm pastries, and sprinkle with crushed freeze-dried blueberries. Serve warm. (see Note)
Note: I waited for the pastries to cool to room temperature prior to drizzling with the icing. Once garnished, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and refrigerated them overnight. Pastry can be reheated or served at room temperature. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Shortbread is pretty irresistible. Typically, recipes are only subtly different. I wanted to try this version because it resulted in a tender cookie, incorporated vanilla bean paste, and because it was Deb Perelman’s favorite.
The cookies were definitely more tender than any other shortbread I’ve made in the past. This is the result from using confectioners’ sugar instead of granulated sugar and from the semolina flour.
I made them for our St. Patrick’s Day dessert. Deb Perelman re-posted the recipe when the new Ted Lasso season began. 🙂 The recipe was adapted from smittenkitchen.com. I liked the cutting and shaping method. I weighed all of the dry ingredients.
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or almond extract or lemon or orange zest or extracts)
250 grams (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
45 g (1/4 cup) semolina flour
Heat your oven to 300°F. (I set my oven to convection.)
Line an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. (No need to grease.)
In a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt together, scraping frequently, until butter is soft. (see note below for alternatively using a food processor)
Add flavoring of choice and flour, and mix just until combined, scraping down the bowl again. This is the same order as for a hand mixer, but with a hand mixer, you’ll want the butter semi-softened first.
Add dough to the prepared baking pan in chunks. Use hands to press evenly into the pan, then an offset spatula or the base of a measuring cup to smooth the top.
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven to cut into shapes. Leave oven on.
Shape the cookies: For the 8-inch square pan: Repeatedly lay a bamboo skewer on the top of the cookie square to make an imprint to help you cut it into 3 even columns (about 2.5 inches wide) in one direction and 8 thin bars (just shy of 1 inch) in the other. Use the back of a wooden skewer to drag across the surface, making slightly indented lines first, then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan. (For a 9-inch round pan: Use a 2 to 3-inch round cookie cutter or glass to cut the center. Then, use a skewer (explained above) to gently indent lines like sun rays or the hands of a clock from the inner circle to the outer edge of the cookie so that they’re your desired size wedges. Then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan.
Dock the cookies all over, about 1/3 deep, with the back of the skewer (for bigger dots) or the pointy end (for smaller holes).
Return pan to the oven for another 25 to 35 minutes, until cookies have a deep golden edge but are mostly pale across the top. Watch closely in the last 10 to 15 minutes so they don’t over bake.
Let cool in pan, or, if you’re impatient, let them cool for 10 minutes, and then remove them.
Note:In a food processor: Combine powdered sugar, salt, and flour in the work bowl, pulsing a few times. Add flavoring of choice and butter and pulse several times to chop the butter down into smaller pieces. Then, run the machine until it is fully incorporated, coming together in a smooth mass, 1 to 2 minutes more. Scrape down the bowl a few times for even mixing.
Do ahead: Shortbread keeps for 1 week, if not longer, at room temperature. It freezes well too, just wrap it tight.
I planned to bake this beautiful cake for Valentine’s Day as soon as I saw a photo of it in Bon Appétit. So pretty! ❤ It was crunchy on top and rich and creamy in the center. We ate it with vanilla ice cream- which was essential– and the perfect compliment to the texture of the cake. It could also be served with whipped cream.
The recipe was adapted from What’s for Dessert: Simple Recipes for Dessert People by Claire Saffitz, via Bon Appétit. It is actually featured on the cover of the book. Saffitz said that “one of her favorite moments in baking is the swirl you get when folding meringue into a chocolate batter. Not only does it look beautiful on top of the cake, it bakes into a light and crispy shell that yields to the rich crumb.”
The magazine article described it as a “sophisticated-looking and -tasting masterpiece that doesn’t take much effort to achieve.” Rich and delicious.
Yield: Serves 10
vegetable oil (for pan)
10 oz (283 g) semisweet chocolate (64%–70% cacao), coarsely chopped (I used 72% Belgian chocolate)
6 T grapeseed, avocado, or other neutral oil
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, plus more
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup (72 g) almond flour or almond meal
vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. (I set my oven to true convection.)
Brush pan with vegetable oil, making sure to coat sides all the way to the rim. Line bottom of pan with a parchment paper round; brush parchment with oil.
Heat chopped chocolate, neutral oil, brewed coffee, and salt in a large heatproof (I used glass) bowl set over a medium saucepan of gently simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring occasionally with a heatproof rubber spatula, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Remove bowl from heat; add 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature, vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar; vigorously whisk to combine.
Add almond meal and mix well. (Don’t worry if it looks broken and separated.)
Add 1/4 cup water and whisk vigorously until mixture comes back together and looks smooth and glossy. Set chocolate mixture aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat egg whites, at room temperature, and a pinch of salt in a large non-plastic bowl until frothy, about 20 seconds.
Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until foamy and opaque, about 30 seconds.
Beating constantly, gradually add remaining 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form and meringue is dense and glossy. (Be careful not to overbeat or it will be dry and grainy and difficult to incorporate into the batter.)
Scoop out a heaping cupful of meringue and set aside.
Scrape about half of the remaining meringue into bowl with reserved chocolate mixture and fold gently with spatula until just a few streaks remain.
Scrape in the rest of the meringue; fold just until evenly mixed and batter is light and airy.
Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth surface.
Spoon dollops of reserved meringue over batter. Using a skewer or toothpick, swirl into batter—a little or a lot; it’s up to you.
Bake cake until surface is risen and cracked, meringue is light golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out shiny but clean, 60–70 minutes. (I baked the cake for 60 min but may check it around 55 min next time.)
Transfer to a wire rack and run a small knife or offset spatula between very top of cake and pan to loosen anywhere it may be stuck (this will help the cake settle evenly as it cools). Let cake cool in pan.
To serve, run knife around sides again to loosen cake, then unmold. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, as desired.
I have another tasty cast iron skillet dish to share. I made this one-pot (skillet) chicken pot pie for our Valentine’s Day dinner. ❤
This recipe was adapted from epicurious.com, contributed by Sahara Henry-Bohoskey. I loved how the biscuit topping was crumbled and scattered over the top. The filling bubbled over and oozed over the sides of the pan- I was very happy that I placed the skillet on a baking sheet in the oven! Next time I would garnish each serving with fresh herbs to add a pop of color.
The original recipe notes that 1/4 cup of aged cheddar or one teaspoon of dried thyme, parsley, or rosemary could be added to the biscuit topping, if desired.
Yield: 8 servings
For the Biscuit Topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
6 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 T heavy cream
For the Filling & To Assemble:
1 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 1/4 to 1 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 4 or 5)
1 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
2 T unsalted butter, divided
1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, scrubbed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium (5–8 oz) waxy potato (such as red), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, any leaves coarsely chopped and reserved, cut on a diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more
2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
flaky sea salt
fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
To Make the Biscuit Topping:
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl to combine.
Add chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, and toss to coat.
Work in butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add heavy cream and stir with a fork until a shaggy dough forms and no dry bits of flour remain.
Chill 20 minutes. Do ahead: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Cover tightly and keep chilled.
To Make the Filling & To Assemble:
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 450°. (I set my oven to true convection.)
Heat oil in a 10″ cast-iron skillet over medium-high.
Pat the chicken with paper towels to dry. Season both sides with salt.
Arrange chicken thighs in pan in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown underneath, 5–7 minutes. Turn over and cook until almost cooked through, about 4 minutes. (Chicken will finish cooking through in the oven.)
Transfer to a cutting board; let cool slightly, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Reserve any accumulated liquid.
Reduce heat to medium and melt butter in pan (no need to clean).
Add chopped onion, carrot, and salt; stir to coat. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add chopped potato, celery, garlic, thyme, pepper, and remaining tablespoon of unsalted butter. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add flour and stir to coat vegetables. Cook, stirring often, until flour coating is golden and nutty-smelling, about 3 minutes.
Add white wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Bring to a boil and cook until wine is reduced by half, about 1 minute.
Add chicken stock or water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and cook until mixture is thickened a bit, about 4 to 6 minutes.
Uncover pan and stir chicken and any accumulated juices, coarsely chopped celery leaves (if using), heavy cream, and peas into filling.
Taste and season with more kosher salt if needed.
Scatter pieces of dough over filling. Brush with cream and season with pepper and flaky sea salt.
Place skillet on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips and transfer to oven.
Bake until biscuits are golden brown and filling is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.
Let cool slightly before serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
I planned our Super Bowl menu around this dip. Thankfully, it was very well received! I served it in the skillet and we scooped it out onto individual plates to gobble up with tortilla chips. Some chips may have also been dipped directly into the pan. 😉
The recipe was adapted from a Bon Appétit “healthyish” recipe, contributed by Shilpa Uskokovic. The original recipe convinced me to use American cheese slices in the queso layer to help it emulsify and to keep the cheese layer from solidifying.
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 T Diamond Crystal or 1 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
1 T apple cider vinegar
For the Queso & Assembly:
2 tsp adobo from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or Morton kosher salt, plus more
4 oz yellow American cheese, coarsely grated or chopped or torn if using singles (about 1 cup) (I used 6 Trader Joe’s singles)
3 oz Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese, coarsely grated (about 3/4 cup)
2 ripe avocados, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
freshly squeezed juice from half a lime
1/4 cup (4 T) sour cream
1/2 cup good-quality salsa, drained if watery (I used Trader Joe’s Garlic Chipotle salsa)
1 (4 oz) can fire-roasted, diced green chilies or 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapeños
4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (packed) coarsely chopped cilantro
tortilla chips, for serving
To Make the Beans:
Melt the butter, cut into pieces, in a medium deep skillet over medium heat. (I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet.)
Add the chopped onion, stirring often, until tender and translucent, about 8 minutes. Monitor the heaat, and continue to cook, stirring often, until onion is pale golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more.
With the pan over medium heat, and add the chopped garlic cloves and cumin. Cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add chopped chipotle chiles, pinto beans, rinsed, and salt. Pour in 1 cup water and bring to a simmer, mashing beans with a potato masher until mostly smooth.
Cook, stirring often, until most of liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. (Beans should be risotto-like in consistency, loose enough to fall off a spoon.)
Remove from heat and stir in apple cider vinegar. Cover and keep warm.
To Make the Queso & To Assemble the Dip:
Whisk adobo, cumin, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Add chopped/grated American cheese and cook, whisking vigorously, just until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat and add grated Monterey Jack; whisk until cheese is melted and queso is smooth (return to low heat briefly if needed). (I cooked it over low for about 2 minutes to melt the additional cheese.)
Using your hands to avoid bruising, toss the avocados pieces with lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl.
Uncover beans and pour queso over.
Top with dollops of sour cream, followed by salsa, diced chilies, and then avocados.
Scatter sliced scallions and chopped cilantro over the top.
Serve dip warm in skillet with tortilla chips.
Do ahead: Beans can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat over medium-low, thinning with water and seasoning with salt as needed.