Serious Eats

Stuffed Cheeses: Delicious or Disgusting?

20080722-pepperjack.jpgOne of the most common food themes is stuffing delicious cheese into something else equally delicious (such as filo dough stuffed with feta cheese). These dishes play with texture and flavor in a satisfying way. But whose idea was it to turn this notion on its head and stuff delicious things right into the cheese itself?

The most egregious example here is Sottocenere al Tartufo, an otherwise bland, white cow's milk cheese from Italy, studded with black truffles. Truffles, of course, have an amazing flavor, but why chop them up finely and embed them in an unmemorable cheese?

Pecorino Tartufo is a slight step up, but I would still prefer eating the truffles and cheese separately. Why is the cheese in Sottocenere bland? Because making the cheese any more pungent would risk masking the flavor of the truffles—another case in point that the two should be separated.

Pepper Jack, a version of Monterey Jack riddled with jalapeño peppers. It's not awful, but again, why are we mixing the two? Is it that difficult to put a slice of Jack cheese on a sandwich along with some pickled or fresh jalapeños? Like Sottocenere, the base is a mild white cheese, because anything stronger would clash with the jalapeños. There are bound to be people who advocate for pepper jack on their burgers, but apart from the convenience of combining two ingredients in one, I don't understand what this particular cheese adds.

The most Frankensteinian example of cheese stuffed with something else I've ever seen was a pineapple-stuffed cheese. I can't remember the name—maybe it didn't even have a name—but, for lack of a better term, let's call it the Pineapple-Cheese Snowman. The cheese itself had the texture of a less-crumbly farmer cheese, throughout which were embedded chunks of pineapple (dried, canned, fresh—who knows?). Separately, each component is tasty. Farmer cheese? Delicious. Pineapples? Can't get enough. Mush them together into some kind of monstrous Sottocenere, and package and sell it to the unsuspecting public? What were they thinking?

But enough of my ranting. How do you feel about stuffed cheeses? Ingenious? Gross? Just plain strange? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the author: Jamie Forrest publishes Curdnerds.com from his apartment in Brooklyn, New York, where he lives with his wife, his daughter, and his cheese.

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