The big cheese

GRAHAM HAWKES
Last updated 16:32 18/06/2014
Southland Times photo
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
That most contentious of snacks – cheese on toast.

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OPINION: I have often said it could only happen in America but I need to take back that as in this case the medal has to go to the Brits - who through HuffPost Lifestyle, have gone to a lot of trouble to tell us how to make the perfect, wait for it, "cheese on toast"!

According to the experts there are few snacks that are more contentious than cheese on toast - something I have always thought is pretty simple to make. But it does beg the question - do you toast the bread first? Grated cheese or slice it into chunks? Are you a Worcestershire Sauce lover or a purist?

In an effort to silence questions once and for all, a new standard has been set. The British Cheese Board has just announced a formula for the perfect cheese on toast, tested and decided on with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

In June the board asked members of the public to share their favourite cheese on toast recipe. They then whittled it down to 120 different recipes and came up with a mathematical formula.

For non-boffins, this means you take 50 grams of sliced hard cheese and place it on top of a 10 millimetre thick slice of white bread.

You then put this under the grill for four minutes at a temperature of 115 degrees Celsius with the cheese toast 18 centimetres in distance from the grill.

My goodness me - it puts a whole new prospective on the good old cheese on toast doesn't it?

But what type of cheese should we use? Ruth Neal, the Royal Society of Chemistry's science executive, said "we used cheddar cheese and found that white bread had the best taste results".

"Different cheese has different melting points. There are 700 different cheeses in Britain and chemistry has an important role in making them. Blue cheeses have fungus that is injected into them.

"Emmental, my favourite, is injected with lactic acid and the holes are produced by carbon dioxide being released and producing bubbles. Crumbly cheeses also have different chemical structure which affects how they react to heat." The winner of the best cheese toast recipe was Steve Tickle, whose combination of Wensleydale cheese, mustard, spring onions and bacon, finished off with fresh mint and slices of braeburn apple was a unanimous favourite.

So here we go - the winning recipe which will serve up to four people.

CHEESE ON TOAST

225g of Wensleydale cheese (any crumbly cheese will do here; our cheddar styles are certainly fine with Mainland Vintage Tasty my favourite)

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4 rashers unsmoked back bacon (in other words streaky bacon)

4 spring onions
4 slices white bread, 10 mm thick

1 tsp Coleman's English mustard

 

Optional extras:
Grating of a parmesan style cheese or a really good mature cheddar

Mint leaves and thin slices of braeburn apple to garnish

1. Place crumbled cheese and the English mustard in a non-stick pan over a very low heat and allow to render slowly. The longer you render the better the flavour.

2. Meanwhile microwave (3-4 minutes) the bacon on a kitchen towel, then cut into small squares.

3. Add the chopped spring onions to the melted cheese, together with the chopped bacon and mix. Place on the hot toast, then put under the grill for 30 seconds.

4. Serve on a hot plate and enjoy.

5. Add the additional grated parmesan-style cheese, some mint leaves and/or thinly sliced braeburn apple.

Note: I also tried Mainland Egmont Cheese with some success.

Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Dr/Bainfield Rd roundabout.

- The Southland Times

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