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Goat Cheese

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chèvre; Montrachet

What is it?

Though the term is a catchall for any cheese made from goat’s milk, for most Americans, it calls to mind soft, white, logs of fresh cheese with a mild but tangy flavor.

Unripened goat cheese is delicious crumbled over a green salad, mixed into a stuffing for boneless chicken breast, and tossed with pasta to name just a few possibilities. It can be lovely by itself, too, with crisp, raw veggies or on a piece of crusty bread. Unless specified, most recipes calling for goat cheese refer to this type of goat cheese of which Montrachet may be the most famous version.

Goat cheese, however, can come in a whole slew of shapes (bars, medallion, pyramids) and sizes with textures that run from moist and creamy to dense and firm when aged. Their flavors also can run the gamut from mild to quite complex and farmy. Different cheese may also be dusted with spices, topped with herbs, or covered in ash.

How to choose:

Much of the fresh goat cheese available in supermarkets are commercially made and come sealed in plastic; your only way of knowing which you like is by trying different brands. When choosing among other goat cheeses, avoid those that are too hard and dried out or have rinds that are slimy, both signs of a strong goaty flavor. Mottled blue mold is fine on all but the youngest fresh goat cheese.

How to prep:

If serving goat cheese as part of a cheese course, let it warm up a bit at room temperature before serving for best flavor. To make crumbling fresh goat cheese easier, freeze it for 5 minutes first.

Heat enhances fresh goat cheese, opening up its flavor and softening it for an even creamier texture.

How to store:

Refrigerate fresh goat cheese in its original packaging for up to 3 months. Store goat cheese well wrapped, preferably in waxed paper or aluminum foil or in a plastic container with a lid, in your refrigerator where it will continue to ripen, becoming more complex in flavor for a while. (The cheese is past its prime when it becomes hard and too goaty.) Plastic wrap does not allow any air to circulate around the cheese, which is fine if you plan to store it for just a few days.

to 10 days.

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