Photograph from Only Alice on Flickr
No, not that kind of grilled cheese. We’re talking about cheese that can be cooked directly on a grill. Of course, you wouldn’t want to try this with just any cheese. Tossing a wheel of Brie on the barbecue might be a fun party trick, but grilling up slices of halloumi, a fresh, white cheese from Cyprus, is real summer magic.
Traditionally made from the mixed milks of goat and sheep, halloumi is somewhat of a cross between the flavor of feta and the texture of mozzarella, although it differs from the latter, and of course from most other cheeses, in that it doesn’t melt when cooked. You may have come across halloumi in the Greek dish saganaki, a flashy appetizer in which the cheese is fried or broiled, doused in ouzo and set aflame. Molyvos, near Carnegie Hall in New York City, serves a classic version of the dish, bright in flavor and refreshingly simple. And Michael Psilakis, chef-owner of the rustic Greek spot Kefi on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, takes the idea a little further, using the cheese as a textural accompaniment in his grilled hangar steak entrée.
Halloumi’s ability to stand up to heat without melting also makes it great for the barbecue. Cut the cheese into slices 1/4 inch thick, and brush it with olive oil. Place on a medium-hot grill, and cook two minutes per side, or until it is golden brown. Drizzle with lemon juice, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Clearly there are many variations on this theme. Are there any spots near you that do something interesting with this versatile cheese?