Also Known As
La Mancha Cheese, Goat Cheese.
Manchego Cheese is the cheese obtained from the whole milk of manchega sheep. It is predominantly produced in La Mancha in Spain. It is cream colored and has a tangy flavor, which depends on the amount of aging or ripening of the cheese. During manufacturing, Manchego is pressed using wooden boards that leave imprints of wheat-ear patterns on the top and bottom of the product, rendering a unique and earthy appearance. Manchego cheese is protected by its Denominacin de Origen. This controls its production, ensures the exclusive use of milk only from the Manchega sheep, and dictates an aging period for at least 2 months.
Chopped manchego cheese
Slice the Manchego horizontally and then vertically. Try to keep the slicing as equal as possible. Now chop it by cutting it into small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter. Although the chopped food doesn't need to be exactly the same size, unless the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "coarsely chopped," make the pieces slightly larger.
Grated manchego cheese
To get grated Manchego, you may use a cheese grater and gently rub the whole block in an upward to downward direction. If the recipe asks for thinly grated cheese, then use the thin holed cheese grater. Similarly if you want thickly grated cheese, you may use the vegetable grater, which has thick holes. Grated Manchego cheese is used in sandwiches, burgers, or as a topping for garnishing.
Manchego cheese cubes
Place the cheese on a chopping board. With a knife, first slice the Manchego horizontally and then vertically. Try to keep the chopping as equal as possible. Now cut it into square shaped pieces approximately one inch in diameter vertically, although the cubes don't need to be exactly the same size. Try to keep it as equidistant as possible. You can increase or decrease the size of the cubes to small, medium or large depending on the recipe.
Manchego cheese strips
Place the Manchego on a chopping board. With a knife, slice it from top to bottom in a vertical direction. Now let each slice fall on the board and gently cut it in to strips.
Shredded manchego cheese
For shredding Manchego, cut the block into two halves. Put it in a food processor and rotate the blade. Shredded cheese will easily keep at least 6 months in the freezer. When you want to thaw shredded cheese, take it out of the packaging and place it on paper towels. One on the top and the other on the bottom. It will absorb the moisture. and you should have great shredded cheese. After defrosting, it's best used in recipes where it will be melted. Shredded cheese is better frozen in lieu of block cheese.
Sliced manchego cheese
Place the Manchego on the chopping board. With a knife, slice it from top to bottom vertically. If the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "thickly sliced," make the pieces slightly larger. Similarly if you want "thinly sliced "Manchego cheese, cut it into still smaller pieces.
How to Select
• It has a salty taste and leaves a prominent after taste of sheep's milk.
• Check for its white to ivory colour. Only select gourmet food stores in India import this cheese.
• It's semi firm at the touch and is available as 2kg barrel shaped blocks or as 12cm thick roundels at 3 different stages of maturity. Fresh (fresco), 3 to 6 months old (curado) and a 1 year old cheese (viejo)
• It can be topped on bread, that has been rubbed with garlic and a slice of tomato.
• It can also be topped over crackers, as well as on any non vegetarian baked dish made of Lamb or salmon.
• You can add it in pastas, replacing your regular choice of cheese.
• It goes well with a medium-bodied beer or a Rioja wine.
• In grated form, it can be used in quesadillas or nachos as a cheesy topping.
• It can also be used in soups.
• Try making lovely Warm Manchego cheese popovers. To make it, stir together eggs, milk, butter, flour, salt and pepper. Add cheese, cilantro and olives and gently fill the prepared muffin cups almost to the top. Bake till golden brown.
• You can also use goat's cheese with paprika, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and capsicum.
• Manchego cheese and potato also go well as a combination in any recipe.
How to Store
• You can store Manchego cheese under refrigerated temperature for atleast 6 months if unopened.
• Once you open the pack, try using it at the earliest, otherwise there might be certain mould formation, due to the moisture content.
• It is advisable to store it in a vacuumed plastic container in the deep freezer, thawing it as and when needed.
• Manchego cheese is high in fats, and thus gives the goodness of fatty acids and increases caloric intake.
• The fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D ,E and K are present in it. These are very much required for various body functions.
• Also, it is a rich source of calcium, which is important for the growth and maintenance of bones and teeth.
• As it is derived from goat's milk, it is a good source of proteins which are required for the growth and maintenance of tissues and body building.