Manchego’s boldness lends flavor without going overboard
If you’re looking for a new cheese flavor that is out of this world without being too out there, manchego is just the one you’re looking for. This Spanish variety hails from the La Manchega region of Spain. Made from sheep’s milk of the manchega breed, manchego is typically found in rounds that are semi-hard to hard. It’s a cheese that is fairly easy to shred by hand and blends well with more mild cheeses like traditional mozzarella. The most commonly exported varieties are the curado –– aged up to four months –– and Viejo, which is aged nine to 12 months.
One of the best attributes of manchego is that a little goes a long way and when mixed with your traditional mozzarella can pack just the right amount of punch. It has a more piquant flavor than cheddar but has a more oily consistency once baked. That means you’re going to want to use it sparingly when paired with other toppings that tend to oil out as well.
Imported manchego is roughly 80 cents an ounce, so use sparingly.
“I use a lot of this firm Spanish sheep’s milk cheese from the La Mancha region,” says John Gutekanst, who penned our cheese story on page 34. “I love it for Spanish style cocas. These long pizzas are easy and fun to stretch with my thin-crust dough. The manchego melts beautifully with walnuts, olives, roasted red peppers, beans, almonds, onions, tomato and sweet local quince or paste. I also love it with any fatty pork product and it really shines with chorizo, sliced pepperoni and guanciale.”
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Mandy Wolf Detwiler is Managing Editor of Pizza Today.