Ah, Anejo cheese, the star of the show when it comes to Mexican cheeses. Don't let its unassuming name fool you - this is one cheese that packs a punch! Anejo cheese is a Mexican cheese with a big, bold flavor profile and some slight differences from its coterie of cheese cousins.
Here, we'll take a brief dive into all things Anejo, from what it is to how it's made, to how to use it in your cooking. But first, let's discover what makes Anejo cheese so special.
So, what is Anejo cheese exactly? In layman's terms, Anejo cheese is a semi-hard cheese that has aged for at least one year (how the cheese gets its name, as anejo means aged in Spanish). It is similar to the classic cheese variation known as queso enchilada but with a subtly different flavor thanks to the additional aging.
To be classified as Anejo, the cheese must also have gone through a traditional cheesemaking process, which involves using both raw or pasteurized cow or goat’s milk. Traditionally, Anejo cheeses are made using a combination of both raw and pasteurized milk, resulting in a perfectly balanced flavor.
Because of the longer aging process, Anejo beers tend to be dryer and more crumbly than other Mexican cheeses. The unique texture comes from the aging, which basically shrinks the interior, compresses the proteins, and causes the cheese to form tiny holes on the surface (called eyes). The cooling process also determines the cheese's final strength - high temperatures create a firmer body and a more intense flavor, while low-temp aging yields a soft, mellow flavor.
As far as flavor goes, Anejo holds its own. It may look mild and subdued, but the salty, complex, and slightly nutty flavor really makes this cheese special. Many compare it to feta cheese, but with a richer tanginess that's not usually found in feta.
Now, what can you do with Anejo cheese? Well, it's a superstars when it comes to Mexican dishes and snacks. Its firm texture and intense flavor make it an excellent candidate for slicing, shredding, or crumbling, and it adds a nice burst of flavor to dishes like enchiladas, tacos, nachos, queso fundido, and burritos.
It's also great for those looking for a meat-free option - Anejo has a robust flavor and firm texture, making it perfect for stuffing include inside a vegetarian burger patty or to make a vegan quesadilla.
But don’t just limit yourself to Mexican dishes - Anejo also goes great with crusty breads, salads, roasted vegetables and even fruit. Top off ripe strawberries with a sprinkle of crumbled Anejo for a delicious twist!
Finally, if you're looking to experience authentic Mexican flavor, try out a Mexican-inspired cheese plate, featuring Anejo and several other local cheeses. Anejo will definitely be the star, adding a dynamic and complex flavor to the mix. Pair it with other mild and semisoft cheeses, charcuterie, olives, and some fresh or pickled vegetables for a truly unique experience.
So there you have it – a quick look at Anejo cheese! Rich, complex, and ready to add a burst of flavor to any dish, Anejo is certainly worth a try if you're looking for a new and exciting cheese. Embrace its unique flavor profile and don’t be afraid to get creative with your cooking - trust us, you won't be disappointed!