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Feb 1, 2008 11:04 AM

Rotel deception [moved from Texas board]

Not that long ago Rotel tomatoes "original" were whole tomatoes and chilies. Diced was the other version available.

Now "original" is diced and the whole tomato version is gone. What happened to the real "original" Rotel. I loved to put the whole tomatoes in queso, just barely breaking them up and making a very chunky dip.

I'm pissed and things like this keep me up at night!

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  1. I miss the whole tomato variety too. I think the change happened a long time ago. The small independent producer was taken over by a conglomerate (Con-Agra?). Some people say the quality went down too but I guess I wasn't paying that much attention.

    There are lots of knock-offs, some awful and some pretty good. I think HEB's store brand line includes a whole tomato variety, or at least it did a couple of years ago, but their product's not very good.

    Mostly these days it's just diced with different seasonings, probably right out of a test tube, too.

    1. Wtf is up with rotel obsession anyways. Its crap canned vegetables and always has been... what is so hard about making a cheese sauce from scratch using quality ingredients?

      23 Replies
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        It's convenient, for one, since not everyone has access to fresh green chiles. Your alternative is...guess what?...canned chiles! And everyone knows that off season tomatoes are completely inadequate. Canned tomatoes are much better than those hard, tasteless things they sell at the grocery store.

        1. re: spellweaver16

          Are the Rotel tomatoes all that good, even compared to other canned ones?

          1. re: paulj

            they're not plain tomatoes. they're seasoned, and contain diced chilies...and enough sodium to send your blood pressure through the roof.

            i'll take a can of san marzanos any day.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              FYI, San Marzanos doesn't work for Mexican sauces... its got to be fresh. The flavor of herbs & chiles used in Mexican cuisine is a bit more delicate than the pungency of Italian "Red" sauce cooking... and so the San Marzanos would end up making a sweet, very cheap tasting sauce similar to what you get at the mass chain Tex Mex places.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                i wasn't saying they would. paulj asked how they compared to other canned tomatoes, and when i think canned tomatoes, i think "plain," so i was speaking strictly to that - products that just contain tomatoes, no other vegetables.

          2. re: spellweaver16

            I am confused... Sinaloa is closer to Texas than California. How can Texans not have okay fresh tomatoes & chiles... since everything we have in the winter either comes from Sinaloa or some hothouse in Scandinavia?

            Further... less than ripe tomatoes (if you know what to do with them) are not only superior to canned tomatoes when making a sauce... but they are often better than sweet & ripe as they result in a more balanced end produce that isn't too sweet.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              The tomatoes I'm talking about are those that are chemically ripened. There is no saving them. I'd rather have tomatoes that were canned while ripe and fresh than the nasty, tasteless, mushy artificially ripened ones at the store. I do live in Iowa, btw. Once tomato season is over, the good tomatoes are gone until next year. So for me, Rotel is a good alternative.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal


                I would really like to see a recipe that you have for queso.

                "Further... less than ripe tomatoes (if you know what to do with them) are not only superior to canned tomatoes when making a sauce... but they are often better than sweet & ripe as they result in a more balanced end produce that isn't too sweet."

                I will confess that I have NO idea what to do with less than ripe tomatoes. Also, the only tomatoes that I get from the store are very mealy and pretty darn tasteless. To get good ones I have to get grape tomatoes, or Nature's Sweet brand. So, please enlighten us.


                1. re: danhole

                  i don't know about eat_nopal, but when i get tomatoes that are less than ripe i roast them to bring out the natural sweetness.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Eh, even then, the tomatoes are so pale and flavorless and it ends up being too acidic of a product since there's no sweetness. The texture is also sort of weird in winter tomatoes and the price is definitely not worth it. I'd rather buy the cheaper Muir Glenn tomatoes or something. There's no way that a Winter tomato is better than a good quality canned tomato.

                    1. re: digkv

                      Good Health... that is exactly it. Blacken them on a grill or a in dry frying pan... cover & cook to reduce... if they are still too acidic add roasted shallots or carmelized onions to bring out sweetness elegantly and without that annoying canned sweetness.

                      I rarely ever cook with canned tomatoes... and people usually rave about my sauces.

                      I just bought some Roma tomatoes for $0.99 a pound... I wouldn't eat them alone or in a salad... but in a couple of days they will end up in a killer Tlacuitapan style Asado de Res (basically a Pot Roasted Flank steak with Nopal Cactus pads, Green Beans, Whole Small Onions.... all in an Ancho-Roasted Tomato sauce) and its going to be fabulous...

                  2. re: danhole

                    Queso Fundido is too easy for a recipe... heat some quality rendered lard, add a tablespoon of masa... cook until thoroughly incorporated... add a little bit of whole milk and heat to almost boil, remove from heat... start adding a good quality melting cheese little by little... stir frequently until you have a cohesive sauce... if the ingredients used are good... canned tomatoes & chiles are extraneous...

              2. re: Eat_Nopal

                Mostly because you can get a really great, traditional product using cheap and readily available ingredients: rotel and velveeta. It's real easy to make and it's quite delicious whether or not it weighs against the high quality but expensive and time consuming "fresh" version is up to the taster. As much as I love food, I can't change my love for the processed stuff.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  Rotel is a Heritage Food. A Texas Thing.
                  As such, it is THE quality ingredient.
                  If we have to explain it further, you probably wouldn't understand anyway.

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    I used a can once or twice. Must have been to make chili. What I remember was a watery mix of diced tomatoes and medium hot chiles. Hotter than the typical canned green anaheims, but not as hot as jalapenos.

                    I can imagine mixing it with melted velveeta to make Superbowl dip, but I have doubts anything more serious.

                    1. re: paulj

                      I like Rotels, but also really like the Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes & chiles. You get a nice smokey flavor with the spice (god help me, doesn't that sound like RR?)

                      1. re: coney with everything

                        Agree that the Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes are a great product. Use them for lots of stuff. Not that fond of chie con queso, but imagine they would taste great.

                      2. re: paulj

                        Velveeta + Rotel = Chili con Queso. Why mess with a Lone Star Classic?
                        I don't use them for other stuff either.
                        A lot of Texans would probably ask why you're putting tomatoes in chili anyway? But that question always starts a fight...

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          re tomatoes in chili - we all have our moments of weakness! The base note always comes from something like ancho chile puree, for a bit of heat I'm likely to finish up a bottle of chunky salsa that's been in the fridge for a while.


                      3. re: MakingSense

                        Rotel is handy and flexible - as Alton might say - a multi-tasker.

                        I keep a few cans on hand for foodie emergencies. Rotel can be combined with a lot of things to create simple dishes with some snap. (Very little need to add other seasonings.)

                        Works great on Snapper, baked potatos, with kale ....

                      4. re: Eat_Nopal

                        It's February and I'm in Boston. Show me where the "quality" tomatoes are.

                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                          Never been to Boston in February but have you looked in your local Mexican markets?

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            My local Mexican markets sell very little produce, and even the enormous greengrocer in Watertown that's my primary source of produce outside of my CSA's growing season has nothing but gassed baseballs in February. I never eat fresh tomatoes between October and June, and I never eat grocery store tomatoes period, because they're nothing more than pathetic, mealy little paperweights. However, canned tomatoes are very useful in many heat-based applications.

                            Furthermore, queso fundido is an easy and delicious dish that I very much enjoy. But it is not chile con queso, any more than a Porterhouse steak and a hamburger are equivalent just because they're both made out of beef. There is a place for both on my palate.

                      5. The only thing "Rotel" that has not been compromised over tha last 20 years are the 3 female vocalists and 5 musicians from Austin who comprise "Rotel and the Hot Tomatoes"!