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Hispanic cheeses? Here's the lowdown

Associated Press
Published September 21, 2005

An interest in Hispanic-style cheeses is a natural outgrowth of the popularity of south-of-the-border cuisines, and cheesemakers have responded to the demand in this special category. The Department of Agriculture says some 42 U.S. cheese plants are making Hispanic-style cheeses.

Although these cheeses get grouped in a category, they are different from each other, each with distinctive taste and texture.

Here's a breakdown of Hispanic cheeses made in Wisconsin:

QUESO FRESCO: One of the most popular cheeses among Latin Americans and a staple in Mexican cooking, this is a soft, fresh cheese with a mild, milky flavor. It's often used as a topping or filling in enchiladas and is sometimes marketed as queso ranchero.

QUESO QUESADILLO: A buttery melting cheese commonly used in quesadillas, it also ideal for stuffed chilies and nachos, while north of the border, people like to melt it over hamburgers. The cheese is made in a jalapeno chili version, too.

QUESO BLANCO: This is good for grilling, frying or stuffing. It becomes soft and creamy when it's heated but will not melt. Its mild taste goes well with tropical fruits and sangria.

ASADERO: This is the south-of-the-border equivalent to Muenster. It's tangy with a creamy texture. It melts nicely and is a good choice for nachos, enchiladas or regional dishes.

COTIJA (QUESO ANEJO): A firm cheese with a robust flavor, cotija is an outstanding cheese for shredding or grating and can substitute for Parmesan. It's most often used as a garnish.

[Last modified September 20, 2005, 10:37:05]

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