Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cast Iron Cheese

     Looking for an easy entertaining recipe with a wow factor?  This delicious modernized cheese spread is very simple, yet elegant and fun.  My husband has always been a huge fan of cheese and in more recent years I find myself expanding my love for one of America's favorite foods.  Recently, Serious Eats posted a poll to determine which cheese is the most loved.   I voted for Gruyere, but Brie was a close second.  To be honest it was difficult to rule a bunch out of my list of faves.  

     Cheese has been around since ancient times and the earliest evidence is documented from Poland - not Italy, as many of us would guess.  Of course there is a plethora of types of cheese out there today, allowing one to easily choose from very mild to a very sharp version of a wide variety.  Nutritional content also ranges from no fat to full fat.  Brie and fresh mozzarella are lower fat options and still extremely delicious, especially with some fresh fig preserves on top.
     When you place this in front of guests (and yourselves!) it becomes the entertainment.  The sound of sizzling and visual of oozy gooziness makes you salivate and want to dive right in; kind of like hibachi.  I must caution you however.  If you have a granite countertop you can do put the hot pan on top as we did in the middle of our island.  If not, you must find an alternate way to present it for it could ruin a counter that cannot withstand the heat of the pan.
      For Cast Iron Cheese we used a Tillamook cheddar, oozy gruyere, aged parmesan, and taleggio.  In the past I have used mozzarella and goat with success.  Almost any cheese could be used, but some strategy is required when using a mix of hard and soft cheeses. 

Cast Iron Cheese

1 small to medium chunk of each of the following cheeses:
Tillamook medium cheddar
Aged Parmesan Reggiano

1 tbs honey
1/2 c fresh smooshed raspberries or fig preserves 
Assorted crackers/bread/crudite for dipping

1. Heat oven to 500.  Take a large cast iron grill pan and place it on the lower rack.  Unwrap all cheeses and place on counter near stove.  

2. When oven comes to temp, open oven and carefully pull rack out to expose cast iron pan. Carefully spray with canola or pam (do not spray wide into the oven).  Gently place hard cheeses on the pan being cautious of instant melting.  Close the oven and when the hard cheeses are about half melted (about 5 min), pull out the pan and add all the softer cheese.  Serve immediately, drizzling honey on top of hard cheeses and placing raspberries on soft.

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