5 RECIPES FOR RED LEICESTER CHEESE LOVERS
Being Leicester born and bred, we used to joke that if I was cut open, I’d probably bleed a deep cheesy shade of orange! Sounds good to me!!
Regular readers of be-lavie, know I cover a plethora of local Leicester content so me thinks it would be sacrilege if I didn’t devote a post to Leicester’s namesake cheese and share some of my favourite ideas on how to eat it!
THE CHEESY HISTORY BIT…
Red Leicester is a traditional hard cheese, which is made from unpasteurised milk with a history dating back to the 17th century when farmers recognised the need to make cheeses, which could set them apart from other areas of the country. In order to differentiate Red Leicester from cheddar, it is coloured with a vegetable dye called annatto and denotes a rich creaminess. The red/orange rind has a powder-like mould on it and the colour of the cheese indicates the milk has a high cream content.
Red Leicester as a whole is a lot crumblier with a milder flavour than cheddar and can be sold as young as two months. Connoisseurs of the cheese would be looking for a firm body, with a flaky texture and although it can be consumed young, to reach its maximum flavour, should be allowed to mature for 6-9 months.
A good Red Leicester tastes a little on the sweet side with an almost caramel flavour, which increases with maturity.
Today, only a couple of farms in Leicestershire makes the cheese using traditional methods and raw milk.
SPARKENHOE RED LEICESTER
My personal favourite Red Leicester is from Sparkenhoe Farm run by David & Jo Clarke in Hinkley Leicestershire. I prefer their vintage cheese, which is matured for up to 18 months and has a moist but rich flavour.
This cheese is made with raw cow’s milk and animal rennet and is clothbound with lard. This cheese is not suitable for vegetarians as contains animal products, however, a lot of Red Leicester is made from annato and therefore suitable for vegetarians.
(Please note Sparkenhoe Red Leicester is unpasteurised)
The cheese can be purchased from many online retailers as well as farm shops, fayres and fetes but I tend to get mine from Leicester Market in LE1, being a keen supporter of #supportleicesterlocal and championing small businesses in the city.
You can read more about Leicester Market here…
So fancy cooking with Red Leicester? Here are a few favourites that we enjoy as a family and also bring back nostalgic memories of childhood. Additionally you can use a lot of the same ingredients in the below ideas so no wastage!
All dishes are made with Vintage Red Leicester and suitable for vegetarians. Sparkenhoe Red Leicester is only on the cheese board.
5 WAYS YOU CAN EAT & COOK WITH RED LEICESTER
1 RED LEICESTER CAULIFLOWER CHEESE
|2 x teaspoons English Mustard |
(I use Dijon)
|50g Plain flour|
|300g Red Leicester cheese grated|
|500 mls milk|
Steam the cauliflower until al dente and ensure it’s free from water and add to an ovenproof dish
The Cheese sauce
Melt the butter in a heavy-duty pan, then whist in the mustard and flour and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes.
Whisk in the milk off the heat and return back to the heat and keep whisking on a low heat until it thickens. Sprinkle in the majority of the cheese and stir off the heat.
Pour over the cauliflower and sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese
Cook for about 20 minutes on 200°C (gas mark 7) until the cheese has browned.
2 RED LEICESTER AND SPRING ONION MASH WITH GARLIC & CHIVE BUTTER
Serves 2 as a side
|500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks|
|75g Red Leicester cheese grated|
|4 Spring onions, trimmed and chopped|
|3 tablespoons milk|
|Large knob of chive and garlic butter (recipe included at the end)|
Steam the potatoes until they are soft
Add butter to a pan and fry the spring onions for a minute, add milk and potatoes.
Warm through and take off the heat and mash. Stir in the cheese
Serve sprinkled with a handful of spring onions and cheese if desired
3 RED LEICESTER & CHIVE SCONES
Makes 18-22 scones
|500g Strong white flour (all-purpose plain flour)|
|6 teaspoon baking powder|
|1 tablespoon dried English Mustard + 1 teaspoon salt|
|150ml whole milk|
|2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped|
|80g cold diced butter|
|250g Red Leicester cheese grated |
(plus 25g for sprinkling on the top of the scones)
|1 beaten egg yolk or 1 tablespoon milk for glazing the scones|
Grease and line two large baking trays
Put flour, baking powder, salt, mustard powder in a large bowl and rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Add cheese and chives and lightly stir with hands.
Poor in most of the milk and start mixing by hand until the dough is soft and moist. If the dough is dry add the remainder of the milk.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat down to about 1 inch on the surface and cut out rounds using a large cutter.
Repeat this until you are out of dough by repeating the process, remembering not to over-work the dough. Don’t knead the dough each time just put it together with your hands.
Place the scones on a baking tray and brush with the egg yok and top each one with a handful of cheese
Bake for around 15 minutes until the tops are beautifully brown
Leave to stand to cool for a while and serve either with garlic and chive butter (recipe below) or a caramelised red onion chutney works well too.
4 RED LEICESTER & ONION CHUTNEY BITES
|320g Puff Pastry (I used jusrol)|
|100g Sparkenhoe Red Leicester grated|
|4 tablespoons red onion chutney|
|3 tablespoons finely chopped chives|
Unroll the pastry and cut into 5cm (2 inch squares)
Add each pastry square onto a greased/non-stick small muffin tin
Add ¼ teaspoon onion chutney to each pastry square
Place a 1 teaspoon grated cheese on top of the marmalade
Sprinkle with some chopped chives
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 200°C or gas mark 7
5 RED LEICESTER CHEESE BOARD
Not technically a recipe!!
|Sparkenhoe Red Leicester|
|Red Leicester with Chiptotle and Peppercorn|
|Caramelised Red Onion Chutney|
|Crackers (preferably something nice and herby)|
|Chive and Garlic Butter|
|Red Leicester favours a full bodied white wine|
Arrange beautifully on a cheese board and consume! Cheers!
Just incase you fancy making your own fancy butter, it’s super simple and easy to do ….
GARLIC & CHIVE BUTTER
|1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped finely|
|2 tablespoons finely chopped chives|
Allow the butter to soften at room temperature
Combine the ingredients and mix well
Put the mixture onto parchment paper and roll into a cylindrical shape
Twist the ends, wrap in clingfilm and put in fridge
(Use the butter within 3 weeks or freeze for a couple of months)
Chopping Board : Howlett Furniture
Disclaimer: The handmade chopping board was gifted to me by Paddy at Howlett Furniture, however I was under no obligation to write a review or include it in this post
Tell me my cheesy friends, are you a lover of Red Leicester? What recipes do you use the cheese in? Please do let me know if you make any of the ideas above as I’d love to see your creations….