For the last year, I have endeavored to come up with the perfect balance of different cheeses to put in my Mac n Cheese. As I have already mentioned, my mother is a fabulous cook who is very health conscious, but occasionally growing up she would make this incredible Mac n Cheese. She uses fontina, gruyere, and parmesan with a bechemel sauce with sauteed onions and ground black pepper, all in layers with bread crumbs on top-YUM. But, like the stubborn, independent daughter that I am, I wanted to create my own ideal cheese combination. So for the past year, on my quest to become a truly competent and diverse cook, I have been trying to find that magic combination of cheeses. Some of the top contenders have included: gruyere, fontina, parmesan, goat gouda, cheddar, but the right cheddar, not too sharp (Irish cheddar) but not too mild (orange cheddar), maybe Australian cheddar… okay you get the point, the bar is set high. Enter Parrano- a cheese so fabulous that it could substitute for the combination of the five above, and it has its own Wiki page.
I have been in love with this cheese since Whole Foods first featured it last holiday season. Every time I go visit Maddie we snack on it, with rare exception.
It’s technically a gouda, tasting more like an aged gouda but with a slightly sharper finish. It’s very complex without being over powering, it reminds me of gruyere combined with parmesan and pecorino romano. I am sure the more I continue to review cheeses on this blog I will progressively sound like the wine experts whom I admire but make fun of. Wine is made from grapes, how can you detect hints of espresso, pineapple, and whatever else in it?! But honestly, the best description I can give of this cheese is hints of caramel, with a rich and polished finish.
But instead of watching with me grapple with my inner wino, go try it for yourself.
This is just one of those cheeses you can use in almost anything. I love featuring it in Maddie’s and my cheese sauce, it’s great on bread by itself, I have melted it on sandwiches, you get the point-It’s incredibly versatile.