By tradition, Penicillium roqueforti (mold) formation begins on specially-prepared rye breads that are placed in the ventilated caves of Mont Combalou. Once the bread has dried, the mold turns powdery. Some producers use a liquid culture for greater control. The curds from unpasteurized sheep’s milk are required. The cheese is salted, injected with mold, and left to ripen in the caves, sometimes for many months.
Not only is this cheese legendary, but a legend lies behind it. A sheepherder stashed his lunch in a cave near Roquefort-sur-Soulzon to trail a young village girl. Many weeks later, he remembered the cheese. It had become moldy, but he was overpowered by hunger. The delicious results were supposedly the beginnings of Roquefort “bleu” cheese.
While there are many blue cheese varieties, the official French version bears a red sheep symbol on its foil seal. The interior mold should be pronounced in pockets, veins, and at the injection points. Blue cheese is at its best when freshly cut from the wheel. Prepackaged cheeses tend to lose some of the identifying flavors.
Keep refrigerated in the original container or wrapped in ventilated foil. Use within a few days of purchase.
Roquefort can be frozen, but may become more crumbly when thawed. It is best to divide the cheese into small pieces first.
• When making dressing, use a less costly blue cheese.
• Poach pears and top with cheese pieces.
• Bring to room temperature (about one hour) before serving.
• Danish Blue is a readily available cow’s milk cheese.
• Blue Bayou or Bayerhofer Blue are Bavarian cheeses.
• Gorgonzola, the well-known Italian blue-veined cheese.
• Stilton, the famous English cheese.
• Maytag Blue – American-made in
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