Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cheese: Cotija and Irish Cheddar with Porter

Cotija cheese is originally from Mexico and gets its name from Cotija, Michoacan. 
It is made from cow's milk and is much saltier than most cheese. The curds are milled into small pieces before they are pressed and aged. 
When cooked it does soften a little, but does not really change shape or consistency. I discovered that  recently when I added it to grilled poblano peppers. 
It was good in the peppers, but I do like other cheeses in them better that melt a little bit. 
Grated it has a texture similar to parmesan cheese and it is good as a topper in savory dishes like crumbled on a roasted ear of corn or tacos. Baby Blues BBQ in Venice, California has corn on the cob with grated Cotija cheese on top and it is very wonderful.
Carlos Miguel's Mexican Bar & Grill in Frisco, Colorado, has a dish called bistec chihuahua, which is rare filet mignon on a bed of fried sliced potatoes, sprinkled with Cotija cheese and garnished with green onions, red bell peppers and mirasol pepper. Another fantastic use of Cotija cheese as a garnish. 
In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, Judy recently brought home some Irish Cheddar with porter. 
It is also known as Cahills Porter. It is made from pasteurized cow's milk and porter beer, a dark beer brewed with dark malts. Cheddar cheese is one of the 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die. The "cheddaring" process is "where the fresh curd is cut into blocks and stacked then restacked so that it drains under its own weight." In this cheese, the curds are veined with dark-brown porter beer which provides a wonderful marbled look. 
I found the cheddar much less tangy than normal cheddar and did not note a beer taste. The porter does provide a depth and meatiness to the cheese which is quite wonderful. It is the Branston pickle of cheese. 
I really enjoyed it and ate a good portion of it in one sitting. It is unlike any other cheese I've ever eaten. 

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