Cheesemaking. It’s like mad scientist meets cook. I have yet to delve into aged cheeses, though I am one mini fridge away from making a “cheese cave” in the garage. This is a “cheater” cheese since it’s not aged, but will be the most similar to one that is. It is a crumbly cheese, but just wait until you have it warm and crispy… drool. If you think gooey and melty is the best thing about cheese, think again. Just wait until you have this, seared until it’s crispy… sprinkled with a little sea salt.. I could tell you all the things you could do with it, but let’s face it, why bother.
SMOKY CHEATER CHEDDAR CHEESE
yield: 1 1/2 lbs
1 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized
3 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp smoked salt (or additional kosher salt)
1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1/2 tablet vegetarian rennet
1/2 cup dechlorinated water
Prepare your strainer. Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink.
Dissolve the rennet in the dechlorinated water and set aside.
Pour milk and vinegar into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
Whisk to combine. Add the spices (reserving salt for later) and whisk to combine.
Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 95 degrees F.
Add the rennet solution and mix it with 20 quick strokes to incorporate evenly. Heat to 105 degrees F.
The milk should be coagulating now, the curds and whey separating.
Use the spoon to cut through the whey to break into smaller pieces, using an up and down motion, NOT whisking motion.
Cook for about 2 more minutes, continue to 115 degrees F.
The curds will become firmer in texture, more like scrambled eggs.
Continue heating to 120 degrees F, moving the curds slowly as they are heating.
At 120 degrees F reduce the heat and use the back of the spoon to squeeze the curds against the sides of the pot to encourage them to release more whey.
Turn off the heat and let the pot sit for 5 minutes or until they hold together when you squeeze them. (If they don’t let the pot sit another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally)
Pour into the strainer and drain for 3 minutes
Squeeze out more whey until curds are fairly dry. Break apart curd and add salt. Mix in very thoroughly.
Place curd filled butter muslin into a mold (I like to use a cheese mold but whatever, even a bowl will do.)
Place in the fridge to allow to rest and chill. To get a denser texture, it helps to put a weight on top (I found a canning jar filled with something fits well on my container).
Unwrap and slice. Melt a drizzle of olive oil or a pat of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Add cheese slices and sear on both sides.
Recipe slightly adapted from One Hour Cheese by Claudia Lucero