Chow Town

Bent River is a complex cheese that changes over time

The texture and flavor of Alemar’s Bent River cheese change as it ripens.
The texture and flavor of Alemar’s Bent River cheese change as it ripens.

October is American Cheese Month. The American Cheese Society says, “American Cheese Month is a celebration of North America’s delicious and diverse cheeses, and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers and chefs who bring them to your table.”

So I thought I would bring a different cheese to Chow Town readers every day in October. Stay tuned to see what delicious cheeses North America has to offer! There are sure to be some classic favorites and new must-haves that will suit everyone’s tastes.

Bent River

Producer: Alemar Cheese Co.

Place: Mankato, Minn.

Milk: Cow

Style: Soft-ripened

The recipe for Bent River is based on Camembert and is a good example of the spectrum of flavors that you can find in a cheese at different points in its aging.

When it is really young it has a firmer texture; the inside is a little flinty, with creamy edges around the rind. When it’s at this stage it tastes of mostly butter, with a little earthiness.

In the middle of its life cycle, Bent River still has a small button of unripened cheese at its center surrounded by pudding-like creaminess, and the flavors begin to move from mainly butter to sautéed mushrooms and a hint of asparagus.

When the cheese is completely ripened, the vegetal flavors of asparagus and cauliflower take over in a spoonable soup perfect to dip crusty bread into.

Whichever way you like it, Bent River is one of the most complex cheeses you will try. That complexity starts with organic milk from the company’s dairy partner and the skill of the cheesemaker.

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 @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.

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