Manchego – a taste of Spain

Manchego is a delicious Spanish hard cheese made of sheep’s milk. We love it! True Manchego cheese is only made in the La Mancha region of Spain and its key ingredient is what makes it a standout.

Manchego is a sheep’s milk cheese, and it has been made that way for thousands of years on the Iberian peninsula.The most important consideration, though, is your plan for a Manchego meal.

Obviously Manchego is just one part of the meal, but when you’ve got a cheese this good, you really should shape the entire meal around it. If you haven’t tried Manchego cheese before, it’s definitely one you don’t want to miss. Here are some suggestions on enjoying your purchase.

  • The intense taste and crumbly texture make it perfect to eat it as is, with a slice of bread.
  • As the focal point of Antipasto, Manchego can be served with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, crusty bread and a robust red wine (Rioja) or a dry sherry (Fino).
  • It is equally enjoyable as a snack or dessert with fruit or fruit tarts.
  • The aromatic intensity of a Manzanilla wine makes it an excellent foil for this cheese. The result is a magnificent combination of aromas giving a new sensation of complexity and elegance. Each brings out the flavour of the other, and the fresh aromas are reminiscent of flowers, nuts and lavender.

Mushroom and Manchego Cheese Timbale – Serves 6

Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 cups very finely chopped carrots
• 2 large scallions, finely chopped
• 1 1/2 cups (about 1/4 pound) finely chopped mushrooms
• 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon paprika, preferably Spanish style
• A generous grating of nutmeg
• 2 cups grated Spanish Manchego Cheese

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet and sauté the carrots and scallions slowly for about 5 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Turn up the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, and sauté the mushrooms for a minute or so. In a bowl lightly beat together the cream, eggs, salt, paprika and nut. Stir in the cheese and the sautéed vegetables.

Butter 6 individual custard cups, divide the vegetable mixture among them, and place in a pan of hot water (bain-marie). Bake at 325º F for 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the custard comes out clean. Unmold and serve warm. If you make them in advance, re-heat by covering with foil and returning to the bain-marie for 10 minutes.

Author: Penelope Casas (C) 1985, “Tapas, the Little dishes of Spain”

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