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Pairing Suggestion: Manchego + Salchichon

Manchego

The Cheese

Manchego

Manchego

Manchego is an ancient Spanish cheese that can only be made from whole milk from Manchega sheep, a breed that is only raised in the La Mancha region of Spain, which by the way is the home of Don Quixote.

Some form of it has been being made since Pre-Historic times. Archeological remains dating back to the Bronze age show that the inhabitants of La Mancha used to make a sheep’s milk cheese with the milk of a race of sheep that’s considered the ancestor of the modern Manchega sheep with strict traditional methods followed in its creation.

Manchego cheese can only be made in La Mancha. But that doesn’t mean that all the cheeses from La Mancha can be called Manchego.  Like Parmesan, the name Manchego is only reserved for the very best.

A regulating council oversees every single aspect of the cheese making process – from the Manchega sheep’s diet to the final aging of each cheese

The Salumi

Salchichon

Salchichon

Salchichon is a dry-cured Spanish sausage.  Like other cured meats, it was originally developed as a technique for preserving meat after slaughter in an era before the advent of refrigeration, but it turned into a delicacy in its own right.

It’s made with pork from Spanish white pigs, ideally pigs which have foraged in oak forests for their food, developing lean flesh with a slightly nutty flavor.  The meat is coarsely ground and the fat is not separated, leaving distinctive white chunks in the finished sausage

It’s blended with pepper, nutmeg, and other spices and left to marinate for about 24 hours.  It tends to be very spicy, with a slightly creamy texture from the fat.

It’s also ubiquitous at Spanish meals.  Salchichon, chorizo and bread are generally part of nearly every Spanish meal.

The Pairing: It’s often said, “what grows together, goes together.”  The theory is that both a cheese and a salumi will express the flavors of their microclimate and regional forage, and because of that they will pair well.  It doesn’t always work, but it’s a great starting place.  And in this case, it turns out to be true!

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