Monday, March 22, 2010

What to Do with Stinky Cheese

I had no problem with cheese, whether it's stilton, goat, manchego, cheddar, brie, etc., until now. My husband picked out a cheese called Morbier at Whole Foods that I was less than excited about to eat. I was pretty much turned off by the ingredient description at the store (vegetable ash) and the smell (like extremely stinky feet or garbage). I was hesitant but kept an open mind since a lot of cheeses smell bad but taste good. Now, I've never licked extremely stinky feet or ate garbage before, but it sure tasted like they way it smelled.

Morbier is a very assertive and strong cheese. There's a layer of ash that runs through the cheese that adds a rather unpleasant gritty texture that cracks between your teeth.

At $15/lb, I couldn't toss it out, so I thought of ways to use it. Instead of eating it with crackers, I thought perhaps cooking with it would mellow out the flavors (or at least hide it). Boy was I glad that it worked! Here's how I worked them into my dishes:

  • In my Oven Roasted Tomato Pasta - I cut the Morbier into little pieces, about a tablespoon worth, and put it in the bottom of my pasta bowl before adding the hot pasta and roasted tomato. After the heat from the pasta melted the cheese, I tossed the pasta around to ensure even distribution. I topped the pasta with freshly chopped parsley and basil (my favorite). The cheese added an extra layer of flavor and richness without being too strong. Aside from the gritty ash, I thought it turned out very well.
  • In Turkey Meatballs - I stuffed little pieces of the cheese inside the meatballs and left out the vegetable ash because I didn't want the gritty texture. Some of the cheese oozed out while I was pan frying the meatballs, but most of it remained inside.
  • In Ricotta Gnocchi - Pretty much the same concept as what I did in the Oven Roasted Tomato Pasta, except that I cooked the tomatoes in a pan with some white wine, shallots and garlic before adding the cheese. As for the gnocchi themselves, I pan fried them for texture before adding the sauce. The garbage cheese did not overpower the ricotta in the gnocchi.

Don't get me wrong, although the Morbier worked in my dishes, I will not buy it ever again. I like to enjoy cheeses on their own, and Moriber definitely doesn't make the cut.

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