Continuing my tour of Spanish cheeses; this cheese is not quite as popular in the United States, but it is one of the more well known Spanish cheeses throughout Europe.
Iberico, or queso Iberico, is a Spanish mixed-milk cheese that is typically aged anywhere from 6 - 12 months. And, as you might expect, being aged 6 months, it is a firm cheese.
Much like it’s cousin from the south, Manchego—Iberico has a D.O.P. designation means that it is guaranteed authentic, is made by skilled artisans, and comes from a specific region.
It tastes pretty amazing, and in my opinion, is far better than Manchego. It has a pretty complicated flavor profile, why is that?.
It’s all about the milk
Well, three of them actually. Iberico is a mixed-milk cheese, made with cow, goat and sheep’s milk. The recipe is pretty specific. The amount of each milk is prescribed in the following amounts: 50% cow, 30% goat, and 10% sheep’s milk. Having such a high percentage of cow’s milk gives this cheese it’s smoothness; goat, tang; and, sheep’s milk gives it a savory flavor.
Spanish mold culture
Hold your horses, not the fungus kind of culture—but, the kind of mold that is used to form food into shapes, e.g. bundt pans, and cookie cutters. Iberico is made with an esparto grass mold, similar to Manchego. The presentation of the outside of the cheese, and artistry involved in the process indicate that the taste and appearance are equally important.
Love this cheese. It’s pretty famously paired with membrillo—a quince paste. Also, Iberico goes great with Chorizo, Jamon Serrano and crusty bread. In fact, this cheese is pretty versatile and is a great melting cheese; so, go forth and use it in cooking. Grilled cheese with a tomato and bacon sounds great right now. I haven’t tried it, but it also goes well with salad, pasta and omelets.
How do you eat queso Iberico? Let me know in the comments.