Is it time to celebrate some of the great Irish Cheeses available to us in the states?
We have become, in recent years, very familiar with the Irish Dairy Board’s push to sell Irish cheese and butter under the Kerrygold label and Irish Cheddar’s of varying quality have saturated the market for a while.
If you can find one that is over a year old, the flavors are much better then the younger cheddars. Often times there is a touch of sweetness on the finish of these older cheddars that is very appealing.
I would not call them sharp cheddars or at least not sharply acidic or tangy like many American types of cheddar. I would describe it first as buttery and then tangy with the occasional crunch in the creamy texture that you get from a well-aged cheese. The flavor then gives way to a sweet note at the finish.
We have a really nice blockTwo Year Aged Irish Cheddar with these characteristics at The Better Cheddar
this time of year.
If you love the blues tryCashel Blue
. Cashel is a cow’s milk blue made by the Grubb family in County Tipperary. The cheese has been made there since the 1980s. It has rich earthy flavor that is similar to Stilton but the cheese itself is much more creamy and less dense.
It has an underlying hint that tastes of leather and minerals. When young the blue veining is minimal but don’t be worried if your piece of Cashel is not very blued the flavor is still there.
For another Irish cheese try to get your hands on some Darú, a farmhouse tomme-style cheese made in County Tipperary by Cooleeney Farm. It has a wrinkly uneven grayish rind. The flavor is mild and milky with an aroma of earth and what they call “cellar.” I guess one could say it has a dank basement smell but don’t let that frighten you, it’s good.
The cheese ripens from the outside in, so depending on the age you might find a young pleasant chalky center. At nine months, the cheese is completely ripened through and creamier then the younger cheeses.
All three of these cheeses would work well on a St Patty’s Day cheese board or pick your favorite and add it to Colcannon — an Irish dish made of mashed potatoes and Kale or cabbage — for a great Irish side to your corn beef. I know cheese in Colcannon is not exactly traditional but adding cheese never hurts.Colcannon with Cheese 3 large russet potatoes 1 bunch of kale 1 shallot 2 tablespoons of olive oil 3 tablespoons of butter 1/2 cup of chicken broth Salt and pepper to taste 2 cups grated cheese (or sliced, crumbled. Depends on the cheese) 1/2 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel and cut the potatoes in to smaller chunks. Remove the stems from the kale and chop the leaves — fine of rough. Thinly slice the shallot. Boil the potatoes until tender. On medium heat sweat the shallots with the olive oil and one tablespoon of the butter for two minutes. Then turn up the heat and add the kale to the pan.
Sauté the kale and shallots for another two minutes and then add chicken broth to the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about eight more minutes.
Mash the drained potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. Drain off most of the liquid left in the kale pan. Add the kale and shallot mixture to the potatoes and fold together. Fold in the remaining butter, half the cheese and the milk. Spread evenly in an oven safe 9-inch-by-9-inch dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and nicely brown.
Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional. He is the manager and buyer for The Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbook and on Instagram @lincycheese.