El helado es dulce, pero el toque de queso manchego semicurado le confiere un delicioso sabor. Helados sin grasa, que sirvieron para ofrecer una clase magistral a los alumnos del Basque Culinary Center.
El Consuelo, Don Cayo y Monteguerras, fueron los quesos enviados por el C.R.D.O. Queso Manchego, para realizar esta actividad de nuestra Cofradía.
Estas jornadas, impartidas por el profesor Aitzol Zugasti, sirven para poner en valor nuestro producto y dar a conocer a los alumnos de esta facultad gastronómica, las diferentes opciones sobre el aprovechamiento del queso Manchego.
Descripción del producto:
Queso de pasta prensada elaborado con leche de oveja de la raza manchega, con una maduración mínima de 30 días, para quesos con peso igual o inferior a 1,5 kg, y de 60 días, para el resto de formatos, y máxima de 2 años.
La leche deberá estar exenta de productos medicamentosos, que puedan incidir negativamente en la elaboración, maduración y conservación del queso.
Las características analíticas de la leche son:
- Materia grasa: 6,5% mínimo
- Proteínas: 4,5% mínimo
- Extracto Seco Útil: 11% mínimo
- pH: 6,5-7
- Punto crioscópico: ≤ a -0,550 ºC
- Ausencia de productos medicamentosos
Las condiciones microbiológicas y de presencia de sustancia farmacológicamente activas, exigidas a la leche serán las indicadas en la normativa europea vigente.
El Queso Manchego es un queso graso, las características físicas del queso al término de su maduración son las siguientes:
- Forma: Cilíndrica con caras sensiblemente planas.
- Altura máxima: 12 cm.
- Diámetro máximo: 22 cm.
- Relación diámetro/altura comprendida entre 1,5 y 2,20.
- Peso mínimo: 0,4 Kg.
- Peso máximo: 4,0 Kg.
Las características físico-químicas del queso son:
- pH: 4,8 a 5,8
- Extracto Seco:mínimo 55%
- Grasa:mínimo del 50% sobre Extracto Seco
- Proteína total sobre Extracto Seco:mínimo 30%
- Cloruro Sódico:máximo 2’3%
- Ausencia de leche de otras especies animales
Los límites microbiológicos son los siguientes:
«Escherichia coli»: Máximo 1.000 colonias/gramo.
«Staphilococus aureus»: Máximo 100 colonias/gramo.
«Salmonela»: Ausencia en 25 gramos.
«Lysteria»: Ausencia en 25 gramos.
Las características organolépticas del queso son:
Consistencia: Dura, libre de parásitos.
Color: Amarillo pálido o verdoso-negruzco cuando no se limpie la superficie de los mohos desarrollados durante la maduración.
Aspecto: Presencia de las impresiones de los moldes tipo pleitas en la superficie lateral y tipo flor en las caras planas.
Consistencia: Firme y compacta.
Color: Variable desde el blanco hasta el marfil-amarillento.
Olor: Láctico, acidificado intenso y persistente que evoluciona a matices picantes en los más curados con persistencia global larga.
Sabor: Ligeramente ácido, fuerte y sabroso que se transforma en picante en quesos muy curados. Gusto residual agradable y peculiar que le confiere la leche de oveja manchega.
Aspecto: Presencia de ojos pequeños desigualmente repartidos, pudiendo, en ocasiones carecer de ellos.
Textura: Elasticidad baja, con sensación mantecosa y algo harinosa, que puede ser granulosa en los muy maduros.
The Regulating Council is in charge of supervising the use of the Protected Denomination of Origin,making sure all the cheeses that bear the manchego name meet the quality and source requirements set in the Council’s quality specifications. The Council certifies all cheeses identified as manchego cheeses fit all the requirements for being considered true manchego cheeses.
The Denomination of Origin Regulating Council Certification Service personnel, carry out periodical audits and inspections on cheese dairies registered in the Protected Denomination of Origin to check that they comply with the requirements established in the Specifications authorised by the European Union.
The Regulating Body’s laboratory also carries out physical-chemical and microbiological analyses on the Manchego cheese, to guarantee that it is fit for consumption.
As an accompaniment to the laboratory tests, the Manchego Cheese Protected Denomination of Origin tasting panel makes a sensorial analysis of the cheese, rejecting batches that do not meet the minimum established requirements as regards the external appearance, smell, taste and texture.
Another important job the Regulating Council is to promote the product, informing consumers of manchego cheese’s fine qualities and the advisability of considering it an important part of a balanced diet.
The process starts milking the sheep in the milking rooms, where modern technology plays an important role in control and hygiene for obtaining the milk that is immediately filtered and refrigerated to 4 ºC.
Afterwards, the milk is taken to the curdling vats, where it is curdled using natural rennet or other coagulating enzymes.
When this grain has been obtained, the mass is shaken and heated again in a double boiler to facilitate the exit of the whey inside the grains.
The curd is then immediately put into cylindrical moulds, covered with a cotton cloth where the characteristic wheat-ear and herringbone patterns, remind us of the patterns made by shepherds in the past with wooden boards and esparto grass sheets.
It is then pressed. This is when the first identification is put on the Manchego cheese, the casein tab where the words “España” and “Manchego” appear together with a series of digits and letters to individually identify each cheese.
After pressing and mould removal, the cheese is salted, immersing it in brine.
They then go to maturing rooms or chambers with systems that guarantee the identification and separation of the cheeses protected by the “Queso Manchego” Denomination of Origin.
Manchego cheeses pair extraordinarily well with a wide variety of foods and drinks.
In these series of posts I will share my discoveries about these delightful combos.
Let’s get started with a marriage made in heaven: Manchego & Figs
Not familiar with figs? Although not juicy, the fig is an incredibly luscious fruit, with a delicate aroma and sweet flavour. Figs have an oval or squat pear shape, and thin skin that encloses hundreds of seeds (actually miniature fruits themselves) held in a succulent, softly fibrous red or purple flesh.
If you have never tried figs with Manchego, get yourself to the nearest Whole Foods or other specialty market and buy some. Since fresh figs are only available from August through to early October now it’s the time!
Tomorrow I will be sharing with you a super easy recipe that will make you love this absolute delicacy. So go pick up a fine Manchego cheese and get your figs ready!
#2 – MANCHEGO & MEMBRILLO
Once you’ve tried this combination, you’ll see what all the fuss is about, and you may even want to try your hand at making some.
Quince is a hard fruit that looks like a cross between an apple and a pear. Most varieties can’t be eaten raw, only cooked. They cook up pink and have a wonderful sweet floral aroma so and extra benefit of preparing “dulce de membrillo” is that your home would smell amazing afterwards.
Besides being a great appetizer and a wonderful dessert, Manchego & membrillo also make for a perfect school sandwich. The little ones love the sweetness of the quince paste and we feel good knowing they’re eating all the vitamins and protein they need.
Like apples and pears, quince is in season during fall. Yes, it’s season time!
So go and buy some. Soon I’ll be sharing my grandma’s “dulce de membrillo” recipe and I can tell you won’t regret giving it a go!
#3 – MANCHEGO & GRAPES
The truth is that Manchego cheese and grapes make for a perfect snack. They not only taste fantastic when served together, more importantly they are a super healthy combo that will boost your energy levels.
On the one hand, grapes – black ones, specially – are a rich source of resveratrol, a potent antioxidant that may help ward off cancer and heart disease. On the other hand, the protein and calcium of the Manchego cheese round up the snack to perfection.
A simple, classic combination, easy to put together, yet tasty and refreshing.
Who doesn’t want to feel the Manchego kiss in autumn days like today?
#4 – MANCHEGO & DATES
Believe it or not, this delightful pair was already common in Medieval Spain. Tasteful and exquisite, some foods never go out of fashion.
The sweetness of the date mixes perfectly with the sharp, peppery taste of the Manchego. And it all goes deliciously well with a glass of red wine. Yum.
You can try this as chic finger food just stuffing the dates with the manchego pieces. It sounds so fancy…but really all you have to do is cut the cheese in pieces to fit inside the dates. Don’t you love recipes like that?
Want to make the snack even more nutritious? Add some pistachio nuts on the side. Pistachios are tiny, but pack a powerful nutritional punch. They will also extend the exotic tone and add more color to your plate.
You can serve these platters up at your next party. Or you can just sit back, relax and nibble on them. I love them just like that. Make me feel like a Moorish queen.
#4 – MANCHEGO & CHOCOLATE
Are you as addicted to chocolate as you are to cheese? Can’t you decide between these two treats? Then you’ll be glad to hear that perhaps you won’t need to choose anymore, as many studies have shown, chocolate & cheese are a perfect pairing. Great news! Isn’t it?
Of course, as both flavors have very intense and complex tasting profiles, not all the cheese and chocolate pairings will be a success.
For a hard cheese as Manchego, experts recommend sticking to high quality dark chocolates (+60%). As dark chocolate doesn’t have a lot of sugar, it’s easier to taste all the true flavors. Of course, milk chocolate and white chocolate could work as well. The best, as always, is to experiment and have fun. Take your time and invite your friends to join you on this delicious journey.
Here are two creative ideas for doing so:
- Combine Manchego cheese and chocolate in small grilled cheese sandwiches. You can serve them as part of your next Sunday brunch. Everyone will love them
- On a dessert plate serve some Manchego slices, a bit of honey, some dark chocolate sprinkles and few pine nuts. Ask your guests to slip and slide the Manchego cheese through the honey and finish off with a dip into the chocolate and the pine nuts. Delicious!
Just a final recommendation: Be sure both the chocolate and the Manchego are room temperature before tasting. That’ll maximize the flavors and aromas.
#5 – LET’S WINE TOGETHER! – La Mancha
This is especially true when it comes to Manchego.
As the concept of “terroir” (or origin) is equally relevant for cheese as it is for wine, you may want to do a “La Mancha” themed tasting, pairing your favorite Manchego cheese with wines from the region.
Did you know that Castilla – La Mancha produces more wine that the rest of Spain together? Whites, reds and rosées, the region gathers no less than 9 wine PDOs! That’s a lot of quality wine!
Try, for instance, pairing a semi-cured Manchego with a light & crisp white from Valdepeñas or a very well cured Manchego with a medium-bodied red from La Mancha. Mix, match and have fun.
Finally, as many Manchego cheese mongers also produce their own fine wines, you can go a step further matching wines & cheeses from the same makers.
As you see, the possibilities are endless in the land of Don Quixote.
#6 – LET’S WINE TOGETHER – TEMPRANILLO
I’m sure most of you will reach for a fine bottle of Spanish red wine. And you know what? Probably that would be an excellent choice.
As a hard, slightly oily and robust cheese, Manchego pairs brilliantly well with Spanish red wines, from medium-bodied to giant reds.
It’s specially a perfect match with another fine export of Spain, Tempranillo.
Tempranillo, a vibrant and aromatic varietal, is arguably the most famous of Spain’s native grapes. Grown all over the country, also in La Mancha but most famously in the Rioja, Priorat and Ribera del Duero regions, Tempranillo’s lively red fruit and noted dryness offer the perfect background to the prominent flavors of our beloved cheese.
Did you know that Tempranillo translates to “little early one”? Yes, apparently this varietal has a tendency for early ripening as thrives even with a short growing season.
When you think about it, all of it makes sense. A cheese that requires up to two years to mature and a grape that ripens “too quickly”. Patience and passion hand in hand. No wonder they make a perfect marriage!
#7 – LET’S WINE TOGETHER! – VERDEJO
What most people don’t know is that young Manchegos are an equally great match with crisp and grassy whites such as Verdejo.
Verdejo wines are aromatic, often soft and light-bodied. They smell like a big bowl of citrus and green apples. Lovely, isn’t it? And it’s actually this fruitiness what makes for a great combination with Manchego – As you probably know by now, fruity flavors make a perfect contrast with our beloved cheese.
Although Verdejo is produced in other regions, the most well known are from Rueda, a small region North of La Mancha and the city of Madrid, just West of the Ribera del Duero.
Rueda wines are nowadays widely available across the US. So if you are a Manchego fan and love the zing of your usual Sauvignon Blanc but are ready to branch out, then you should try your favorite cheese with a glass of Verdejo.
#8 – ON BEER: MANCHEGO’S SECRET AFFAIR?
However, I’ve recently come across many articles about the excellence of pairing Manchego and beer. Just a new hype or a truly great combination?
As experts say, a nutty aged Manchego finds a good complement in malty beers like nut-brown ales, stouts and porters. The reason, they argue, is that the nut and caramel aromas of the beers harmonize well with those you find in aged Manchegos.
As Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of New York’s Brooklyn Brewery and author of “The Brewmaster’s Table” explains, “with wine, you’re almost always working just with contrasts. That’s not as satisfying as also working in some harmonies.”
Personally, I like pairings that work with the idea of contrast.
Also I have to admit that pairing Manchego with beer is a very nice combination too. As beer helps to clean the palate making the mouth ready for another taste, this pair can work at so many levels.
Now how about you: how would you pair your Manchego?