Father-and-son team Kenny and Jared Mattingly have run Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese out of their farm in the hills of Barren County, Kentucky since 1998. While the farmstead has been milking on the land for 40 years, the family decided to make cheese about 20 years ago to sustain the dairy farm. Kenny, the founder, still manages the dairy farm, creamery, and team. The methods used and scale of the operation have changed over the past few decades, but the farm’s commitment to harvesting high quality milk and producing fantastic cheese have not. Their mixed-breed herd—including Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss cows—spends most of its time grazing outside on fresh pasture, or munching on high-quality alfalfa hay.
“Ted” was inspired by rustic British cheddars and named after Kenny’s grandfather, “Tennessee Ted," a burly iron worker whose jobs ranged from helping build railroads in Alaska to skyscrapers in New York City. In his memory, Kenny and Jared decided this wooly-rinded cheddar style was the appropriate cheese to carry on Ted’s name. The cheddar is versatile and not incredibly delicate, a perfect table cheese.
Kenny’s started making Ted around three years ago after constructing a room for aging blue cheeses. Before being made into cheese, the milk is inoculated with some roquefort cultures to allow rind development further along in the process. The cheddar is larded early in the blue room to keep the rind from cracking, then constantly brushed and turned for even ripening. Ted is sold after eight to 12 months of aging.
The color and flavor of each wheel depend on what time of year the cows were milked. Batches made when the cows are grazing more heavily, from early spring to early winter, have deeper yellow paste and a grassier flavor, while winter wheels trend more sharp.
This cheese yields buttery caramel notes and slightly piquant flavors of cave and earth closer to its rind.
Pair it with a Normandy cider, a spicy rye whisky, grilled peaches, milk chocolate, or wildflower honey.