Monday October 3, 2011
As we enter the heart of football season, an inordinate amount of my weekend diet revolves around cheese, often melted into a dip or heated in a sandwich. And the question invariably arises, which cheeses melt best? (aside from Velveeta, which does the trick but doesn't really count, being more of a cheese-like product that's harvested on the third moon of Saturn) To answer this question succinctly, I defer to an excellent resource, 101 Things I Learned in Culinary School, by Louis Eguaras with Matthew Frederick. Here's an excerpt from a page entitled, "Soft Cheeses Melt Best."
"Fresh, unripened cheeses (e.g., ricotta, feta) are used in pastries and baking. They are the softest cheeses.
Soft cheeses (brie, camembert) ripen from outside to inside, resulting in a runny center. The longer they are aged, the sharper they taste and smell. They melt very easily.
Semi-soft cheeses (e.g., fontina, port salut) are generally springy to the touch, mild in flavor, and melt easily.
Firm or semi-hard cheeses (e.g., cheddar, Swiss, manchego) generally have a strong flavor. They melt somewhat but maintain their shape.
Hard grating cheeses (e.g., romano, parmesan) have the lowest moisture content and become drier when cooked. They will melt only in small shavings."
There you have it, sports fans. Go forth and fulfill your cheesy destiny.