A Family Favorite for Charcuterie Boards
We have many options in boards that we often make. One of these are our charcuterie boards. Usually you will see these as a mixture of meats, cheeses, and other items that go well together. One of our long time family favorites to add into this mix (before a "charcuterie board" was a common phrase) has always been smoked cheeses.
A favorite treat for both Caleb and Matt was when we would visit Holmes County and stop at the cheese shops and find those specialty cheeses.
In the past few years we have started making the cheese at home. -No we are not brave enough to make cheese- We buy some of our favorites and smoke them at home. These include Gouda, Swiss, Provolone, and Chedar. Really start with any cheese that you like. We purchase in entire blocks.
We then find that cutting the blocks smaller helps to get better flavor. It also makes storage and serving easier later.
Onto the smoking. If you don't have experience we use a method called cold smoking. The advantage of living in the northern part of the country is winter temperatures which give us an advantage to keep cooler temperatures while our wood is burning.
An unlit grill or smoker work best but I have seen many people get creative in ways to hold the smoke close while they make the cheese.
If you are not used to this I prefer finding pecan or maple wood chips. Others have their favorites as well. A smoke tube is helpful as it holds the chips close while they burn giving a cleaner smoother smoke. Pack the tub with chips. When you are ready to start the process I pack the tube with my wood chips as tightly as possible and lite one end. Get a good flame burning and let it continue with a flame for a good 5-10 minutes.
After getting a good burn I blow out the actual flame and leave the red coals stay in the tube. The tube then goes into the smoker or grill. I have an offset so it will be in the fire box. If you are using a grill try to get as far from your cheese as possible. In the past I have used a vertical smoker. When using something where the cheese is over the smoke source I have found a tray of ice in between helps.
I usually let my cheese stay in the smoker for about 4-6 hours monitoring the temperature to keep it at or below a common refrigerator.
When the smoking time is over the cheese comes back inside and is vacuum sealed and stored in the refrigerator.
Now here is the hard part. You need to wait. Typically we give our cheese 3 months to rest. The time allows the flavors to mellow and be through the cheese.