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~ Manchego Cheese -- What it is and How to Use It ~

IMG_6868It's my opinion that it's impossible for any one person to have one favorite cheese.  There are thousands of choices, with unique varieties available in in every region of  the world, with new varieties being created as we speak.  To name a few, are hard cheeses, soft cheeses, semi-soft cheeses, crumbly cheeses, spoonable cheeses, melting cheeses, grating cheeses and blue-veined cheeses.  There are cow's milk cheeses, sheep's milk cheeses, goat cheeses and vegan cheeses.  Some cheeses are processed, others are not.  Some are aged for a short time, some are aged for a long time.  The best one cheese lover can hope for is to sample as many as one can on his or her lifetime of travels, compile a list of favorites, and use them appropriately. 

Castilla-la-mancha-map-castilla-la-mancha-autonomous-community-location-map-spain-vector-illustration-138748442Manchego is a Spanish, raw or pasteurized, whole Manchgo-sheep's milk cheese licensed to be made in four provinces in the La Mancha region (south of Madrid). Manchego is the undisputed favorite cheese of Spain.  Manchgo's texture varies depending on how long it is aged -- 60 days to 2 years. Manchego is semi-firm with a compact consistency.  It's color is white to ivory-yellow.  It has distinctive mild flavor -- fruity, nutty, tangy and sweet.  A fat content up to 57% contributes to its richness. 

The cheese curds, a 50-50 blend of the milk from the Manchego breed of sheep and calf's rennet, are pressed by-hand into specifically-sized cylindrical molds that are etched with a pattern that gives Manchego's edible red rind a pattern replicating the grass baskets the cheese was traditionally hand-pressed into. The most traditional use for Manchego is to eat it served with Spanish tapas. The thinly-sliced cheese is paired with Serrano ham and marinated olives, or, Serrano ham, figs and walnuts, and, bread. Because of its high fat content, it doesn't melt very well, but it ideal for shaving atop salad, vegetables or pasta.  To store, wrap Manchgo tightly in parchment, waxed or butcher paper and store in the drawer of the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks.

IMG_6863Try my ~ Manchgo, Apple, Prosciutto, Arugula & Fig Crostini ~:

IMG_6910"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2023)


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