I recently saw a kickstarter project for a cheese place in Little Rock, AR,
www.kentwalkercheese.com. Kent has some great looking cheeses on their website, but the one I liked best, Garlic Montasio, was sold out. So I wrote to them and got some details about the cheese and decided to try to make it. In doing a little research it turns out Montasio can only be made in Northern Italy and that it is tightly controlled. I have found this control with cheese as well as wine, the protection of the name.
The first step was to roast some garlic. I chopped of the top of two heads so the garlic was exposed. I poured olive oil into the head and wrapped in foil. Cooking at 350° it took 45-55 until the tops were a little brown and the whole head was squishy. After it cooled a bit, I squeezed the garlic into a food processor to turn the garlic into paste.
These days I always try a recipe first with cheap grocery store milk to see how it work. This is a 3 gallon batch. I decided to add 3/4 tsp. of Calcium Chloride to try to help the cheap milk, I probably should have doubled that measure, as the curd did not set to firmly after 75 mins. I was also guessing on the rennet as I went with a little more than 1/2 tsp. Upping this amount may have also helped. Once I started cutting, I suspected something was a little off the curds looked more like oatmeal than cheese curds.
We heated the curds for an hour with
stirring and ended up with curds on top. I even let them settle from time to time and some would still cluster on top of the whey.
This made pulling off any whey very challenging. This is a washed curd recipe so I was going to add in some hot water to finish the process. I added a couple cups and decided to try to just strain off a couple cups to give me some more room in the pot. Anyway we finally reached the final temperature and stirred for another 10 mins to complete the process.
I strained off the whey and then pulled out 1/3 of the curds to mix with Garlic. I was planning on making a one pound wheel and a two pound wheel, so I was going to add Garlic for the one pound wheel and see how much Garlic seemed right.
I blended the garlic into the curds by hand to get a good mix. The curds went into the molds and on to the press next.
The smaller press was going at 25-35 lbs and that may have been the problem with that wheel as it came out very flaky(see the last picture). The larger wheel came out of the press(55-60 lbs.) ready for brine and looked really solid.
The recipe called for brinning anywhere from 12-24 hours. This seems like a pretty wide range but as it worked out the larger wheel got 21 hours and the smaller got 17 hours of brinning.
When I pulled out the larger wheel I noticed some large cracks in the middle of the block that may prove problematic very soon. The smaller wheel is pretty flaky and the curds are still visible, not a good sign.
I will wipe on olive oil when they dry to try to keep the mold down but we will probably be eating these real soon.
Update: Aug.1, 2015 – I put the smaller wheel into a seal-a-meal bag today. It seemed like it was drying out a bit. This should keep it until I slice it mid-September.
Update: September 23, 2015 – Time to eat the cheese. We broke into the smaller wheel and wow is it good. Great garlic flavor. It was a little dryer than I would have wanted, so we will see how the other wheel turns out soon.
Update: August 31, 2016 – I pulled out the last quarter wheel to take to a party and found that the cheese had dried enough that it could be flaked apart with the end of a cheese knife. It had an amazing flavor after sitting for 14 months. The rule must be if you don’t like a cheese put it back in the frig till you do. Not it is all gone, however I just remade this recipe, so check out that posting.