Mozzarella - Smoked (The Mozzarella Company)
Located in Dallas, Texas, the Mozzarella Company was founded by Paula Lambert in 1982. Paula’s passion for all things Italian was the inspiration for the Company’s creation, although when the company started in the early 80’s, it was ahead of its time in terms of being able to find a ready market for fresh Italian style mozzarella. However, persistence together with great products really paid off and The Mozzarella Company has grown steadily and expanded over the intervening decades. Today, still under the guidance of Paula, they produce a range of fresh and young, Italian type cheeses, one of which is Smoked Mozzarella. Paula’s inspiration for the creation of her Smoked Mozzarella stems from her love of Italian cheeses and also her frustration at not being able to find Fresh Mozzarella in Dallas during the 1980’s. Determined to put this right, Paula spent time at a small cheese factory near Perugia where she learned to make fresh mozzarella. Upon returning to Dallas, she wanted to add to her line of cheeses and subsequently developed her Smoked Mozzarella. Cow’s milk for production comes from a number of family farms located southwest of Dallas, TX, near the towns of Cleburne and Stephenville. Upon arrival at the creamery, the milk is pasteurized. To make the Mozzarella, selected bacteria known as starter cultures, are added to the milk along with a microbial rennet which acts as a coagulant. Once coagulated, the curd is cut both horizontally and vertically by hand with cheese knives, forming the curds into small soft cubes and releasing a quantity of excess whey. The curds are allowed to “rest”in the whey until they reach the correct texture. At this point, hot water is poured over them and the curds are stretched and worked with a small paddle until they become malleable, smooth and satin-like in texture. This is the most crucial and skilled part of the cheesemaking process for Mozzarella because there’s only a small window of opportunity to stretch the curd. If the curd is worked before the pH level reaches 5.2, it becomes tough and inferior. However, if the pH falls too low the curd is not able to be formed into cheese. Assuming all goes well, 8oz balls of mozzarella are pinched off from the stretched curd and immediately tossed into cool water to chill down. One chilled, they are briefly placed into a brine solution. At this point, selected cheeses are taken off to be smoked over smoldering pecan shells. As well as imparting a true Southern nuance, the Pecan Tree is the state tree of Texas, which makes it particularly appropriate. Flavors of the Mozzarella Company’s Smoked Mozzarella are very rich and cream-like with a balanced, with gentle caramel and smoke aromas and a clean bright finish.