Have you ever thought about getting real ethnic and make a traditional Mexican meal and then you get to the Mexican cheese section and your head starts spinning; Queso Fresco, Panela, Oaxaca, Cotijo…
You just figured out cheese food is not real cheese now you encounter this? Not to worry, this Latina is going to give you the most comprehensive guide. When people taste your food they will no longer think you went through the drive through at Taco Bell. (BTW, I love Taco Bell, please no hate mail.)
I am not including all of them, but you will have the basics. My favorite brand of Mexican Cheese is “Cacique” so click here for more recipes.
In no particular order
Panela: Vegans love this cheese for the variety of ways to use this. This cheese is a firmer white cheese that softens but wont get stringy when melted. You can cut off a slab and sear it, make chile rellenos or jalapeno poppers or my favorite is to bake it. Click on this link to go to the “Mexican Made Meatless” for the best Baked Panela Dish that Will Knock Your Socks Off by the Spicie Foodie! Add a few chips and you have a great appetizer.
Queso Fresco: This is the most popular cheese and you can use it in a variety of ways but my favorite is to make a big pot of beans, better known as “Frijolles de la holla”. The blog Par Taste has the best traditional bean soup recipe that I have found and just top it with some yummy Queso Fresco, heat up some tortillas and you got a dinner made in Heaven! This also is good over tostadas, melts great so is good as to use for quesadillas. Most people find this the go-to cheese of all the kinds.
Oaxaca: This cheese will remind you of mozzarella as it is very string and cheesy, ah what a perfect cheese to make my favorite steak quesadillas! Click here for Mely Martinez of the Blog “Mexico in my Kitchen” recipe to the most delicious steak quesadilla recipe. I love that she too uses Cacique out of all the brands.
Queso Cotija & Crema Mexicana
I put these together because to me they are like hamburger and fries, Batman and Robin, movies and popcorn…well you get the drift. They are FABU together. But let me explain them separately first.
Cotijo is like parmesan cheese only better. You can buy it in the chunk but I prefer to buy it already grated. If you ever had street corn and watched them spoon powdery cheese all over it, that is Cotijo.
Crema Fresca is Mexican sour cream. You never tasted sour cream until you have tasted Crema Fresca. The consistency is thinner but still super creamy tasting. Whenever you want to use sour cream in a dish, reach for this instead. WOW you are going to taste the difference.
When you make tostadas, sopes or huaraches (pictured above next to cream) make as ususal.
Top shell, sope or huarache with:
*meat of your choice
*thinly sliced radishes
*diced green onions
*finely shredded lettuce
Stir your Crema Fresca then drizzle all over toppings. Finish off by spoon sprinkling Cotijo cheese to your desire, (I like a lot) Get ready for a party in your mouth!
Four Quesos Blend: Who doesn’t love a blend of white and yellow cheeses. This is the one I use for my green chicken enchiladas or frijole de la holla soup. This is very popular and you can use it in many dishes that calls for melted cheese.
History: I have to give credit where it is owed. I love products that have a beautiful story like Cacique Inc. In 1973 handyman Gilbert de las Cardenas and his wife Jennifer started out by selling their quality Queso Fresco out of the trunk of their Pontiac in La Puente. Talk about a rags to riches story with a beautiful ending. Their cheese is made from Kosher certified milk AND IS HORMONE FREE!
By the way, I am not being payed for this. So you know this has to be a pretty far out product.
I dedicate this blog to my friend that I love soo much but was very confused about the Mexican cheese, Bon Apetit Gwyn Stephens…or should I say, “PROVECHA!”