Smoked Gouda (Brazos Valley)
15 years ago, Rebeccah Salmeri decided to teach herself how to make cheese. Living in Waco, Texas in the traditional agricultural and crafts community Homestead Heritage, Rebeccah was looking for a way to use some extra spring milk that the community’s Brown Swiss cows had been producing. Using books and experimentation, she gradually began producing dairy products, hard and soft cheeses, eventually teaching her craft to others. In May of 2005, Rebeccah’s cousin Marc Kuehl visited the community and decided to stay and make cheese with her. Together, the pair founded Brazos Valley Cheese.
Since then the company has continuously grown—from making two 36-gallon batches per week to using a 200-gallon vat, to purchasing a 400-gallon vat that was custom made in the Netherlands and building an underground aging cave. Milk is sourced from three local Brazos Valley dairies, where Jersey and Brown Swiss cows graze freely outside. All of the company’s cheeses are raw milk cheeses.
This raw cow’s milk Gouda spends two days in Brazos Valley’s restored 1860s smokehouse, where pecan shells are slowly burned to mildly flavor the cheese. The wheels are then aged for two to six months.
Smoky aromas waft from this satiny, springy and moist cheese, with hints of black pepper, spicy peppers and bacon. Taste is salty and bitter with sweet background notes that hint at bubblegum and a touch of woodsy smoke.
Pair it with a Chianti.