The perfect melt: that transcendent moment when cheese becomes hot oozey, bubbly, stringy… Whether it’s for a gratin, French onion soup, tartiflette, grilled cheese, or simply scraping off the rind in the style of traditional Raclette, here are our top five cheeses for melting, our favorite pairings and recipe ideas:
- Birchrun Hills’ Fat Cat, pictured above, scraped over potatoes, onions, ham, or beef. Also delicious paired with oat crackers, or a malty beverage… to compliment the toasty notes of winter milk!
- FireFly Farms’ Merry Goat Round… use in place of the Reblochon in this recipe for Tartiflette, and prepare to be delighted!
- Perrystead Dairy’s Intergalactic… simply put it in the oven at 350 degrees, in the little wooden box it comes in, then dip roasted brasicas, bread, potatoes, or apples in that bubbly vat!
- Sennerei Huban’s Alp Blossom… try it in an elegant open faced grilled cheese, or pizza, allowing the savory blossoms and herbs of the rind to express themselves. Looking for a savory muffin recipe? Here’s one that features Alp Blossom.
- Goat Rodeo’s Bamboozle… with its supple, semi-firm texture, Bamboozle is a versatile melter that will elevate your mac ‘n’ cheese, pizza, or grilled cheese.
What makes these cheeses ideal for melting is their divine ratio (no, not Da Vinci’s, but golden nonetheless) of fat, moisture, and protein. In order for a cheese to melt perfectly, it must have enough moisture to bind the fat and protein together in such a way as to maintain that oozey, stringy texture as the heat increases, without separation. This is why a cheese must not be too young nor too old, too high in fat, nor too lean, in order to melt perfectly.
In case you needed an extra reason to melt your cheese, here’s a fun one: upon heating, cheeses release more of their volatile compounds than at room temperature, thereby expressing a broader complexity of their inherent flavors, such as ham, caramelized onion, béchamel, and in some cases, even bone broth. These added nuances elevate pairings, and add depth to the meals they take part in.