Here at culture, we often describe smoked cheeses we try during our tastings as “meaty,” because the distinct aroma and flavor of barbecue is undeniable. But have you ever wondered how the pros smoke their cheese? They have three options: liquid smoke, a smoker, or a grill. Hm, you might be thinking, I have one of those pieces of equipment…and some cheese in my fridge! Yes, smoking cheese at home is completely possible — and often yields delicious results. Here’s how to do it.
Smoking Cheese on the Grill
If you’re like most Americans, you own a grill. Backyard grills can be used to smoke cheese at home, as blogger Sue at Cheese and Toast explains here, What you’ll need: a charcoal grill, a tin can, and hardwood chips. Sue suggests choosing fruit wood chips, because “it gives a sweeter, milder note (mesquite chips can be overpowering for cheese).” The entire process takes less than an hour from start to end, depending on how smoky you want your cheese to taste. Her DIY tutorial features cheddar, mozzarella, and pecorino, so you can really get creative. Try one, two, or all three!
Smoking Cheese in a Smoker
If you’re serious about your barbecue, you might own your own smoker — which is awfully convenient if you want to smoke your own cheese. This recipe from food blogger Ramsons & Bramble uses barrel-aged feta, a cheese not commonly found smoked in grocery stores — aka the perfect reason for a summer experiment! The author also notes smoked cheese is a great protein option for vegetarians: “If you are vegetarian, adding a little smoked feta (especially one you crafted yourself) to a dish can be as uplifting to the flavour as the meat-eater’s staple, bacon.” Yum!
If you’re not quite ready to smoke your own cheese, or are looking for a way to utilize your newly-flavored curd, here are some of our favorite ways to cook with smoked cheese:
This burger from How Sweet Eats is so much more than a burger with a slice of cheese on top. There is a trifecta of smokiness on this one: smoked cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, and a smoky spread, but not so much that it “makes you feel like you’re eating a burger rubbed in an ashtray.” Good, because that would be pretty gross. Still feeling the veggie vibe? Try our Viking Veggie Burgers topped with thick, melty slices of smoked gouda.
What better way to enjoy the deep, powerful flavors of smoked cheese than sprinkled atop pizza? If you only have a bit of cheese, try our Mini Pizzas with Pan-Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Sausage, & Smoked Scamorza. You can also substitute smoked mozzarella for the scamorza in this recipe. Want something more filling? Whip up our Spicy Chicken Sausage Pizza with Smoked Cheeses, which uses smoked chèvre and smoked mozzarella for a double dose of barbecue flavor.
Have a garden? We’re going to guess that it’s overflowing with vegetables right about now. No worries! Stuff those seasonal goodies with some smoked cheese, and you’ve got a delicious, totally-DIY meal (if you made the cheese yourself, that is). One recipe we love? Stuffed Eggplants with Fresh Peas and Smoked Mozzarella. The fresh peas add sweetness that contrasts well with the smokiness of the mozzarella. Precook the eggplants for a stress-free summer dinner party.
Photo by Ramsons & Bramble