Manchego, you will always have a special place in my heart.
Y’all…up until the day I discovered manchego cheese, I had no idea that there were so many different cheeses made out of sheep and goat milk! Until I discovered manchego, I had only ever heard of chevre, which is a soft goat cheese from France (fun fact: chevre means “goat cheese” in French). But, I digress. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty…
Manchego (mahn-CHAY-goh) is a hard sheep milk cheese that comes from the La Mancha region of Spain, which encompasses both central and eastern parts of Spain.
True manchego cheese is made in La Mancha and is made solely from sheep milk. It is usually identifiable by a dark brown rind. Unlike some other rinds (i.e. brie) this particular rind is not edible.
Manchego definitely has a sharp taste and, as sharpness goes, I would compare it to an extra sharp cheddar. It has a kind of woodsy/earthy taste that makes it delicious to eat on its own and that makes it stand out in almost any dish.
Manchego is categorized as semi-hard to hard. In my experience, it is a good slicing or crumbling cheese, but it is somewhat difficult to grate.
This is a versatile cheese. I love to eat manchego on its own with good sangria or other semi-sweet wine. I think that the woodsy flavor nicely complements the sweetness of wine with strong fruit notes. For that same reason, I also like to eat manchego with whatever fruit is currently in season. It is great with pears and jonagold apples. I have also melted manchego on a toasted cheese sandwich, and have used it to make the sauce for my baked macaroni and cheese.
Places to Purchase
I buy manchego from my local Costco. I think that the price there is pretty reasonable at between $7 and $8 per pound. You don’t need much and I find that it has a good shelf life and lasts quite a while.
Have you ever tried manchego? If so, how did you use it? Also, where do you purchase it in your area? I’d love to know.