Ham and cheese are a match made in food heaven. There’s something about the salty and savory flavors of ham that perfectly complement the rich and creamy taste of cheese. But with so many cheese options out there, it can be tough to know which one to pair with your ham. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you find the best cheese to go with your ham.
How To Pair Cheese With Ham: A Comprehensive Guide
When choosing the right cheese to go with your ham, it’s important to consider the flavor and texture of both the ham and the cheese. If you’re serving a mild ham, like honey-baked ham, you’ll want to choose a cheese with a stronger flavor to balance it out. On the other hand, if you’re serving a strong and salty ham, like prosciutto, you’ll want a milder cheese that won’t overpower the ham.
When it comes to texture, you’ll want to choose a cheese that has a similar texture to the ham. If the ham is softer and more delicate, like a cooked ham, you’ll want to choose a soft cheese like brie or camembert. If the ham is firmer, like prosciutto, you’ll want a harder cheese like parmesan or aged cheddar.
Another important factor to consider when pairing cheese with ham is the origin of both the ham and the cheese. For example, if you’re serving a Spanish ham like Jamón Ibérico, you may want to pair it with a Spanish cheese like Manchego. Similarly, if you’re serving an Italian ham like prosciutto, you may want to pair it with an Italian cheese like pecorino romano. This can create a more cohesive and authentic flavor experience for your guests.
Top 5 Cheeses That Complement Ham Perfectly
1. Gouda – This Dutch cheese is a versatile cheese that pairs well with almost any type of ham. Its sweet, nutty flavor makes it a go-to choice for many ham lovers.
2. Blue Cheese – If you’re looking for a cheese with a bold and intense flavor to complement your ham, look no further than blue cheese. Its creamy texture and strong taste pair perfectly with salty and savory hams like prosciutto.
3. Swiss Cheese – Swiss cheese is a classic choice for pairing with ham, and for good reason. Its nutty flavor and mild sweetness make it a perfect match for hams like honey-baked ham.
4. Cheddar Cheese – Aged cheddar cheese has a sharp and complex flavor that pairs well with strong and salty hams like prosciutto. Its crumbly texture also adds a nice contrast to the softness of the ham.
5. Brie – A soft and creamy cheese like brie is a great choice for pairing with a mild and delicate ham, like cooked ham. Its rich and buttery flavor will complement the ham without overpowering it.
When it comes to pairing cheese with ham, it’s important to consider the texture of the cheese as well. Harder cheeses like Gouda and cheddar can be sliced and served alongside the ham, while softer cheeses like brie can be spread on crackers or bread. Additionally, experimenting with different types of cheese and ham can lead to some surprising and delicious combinations. Don’t be afraid to try something new!
The Science Behind Matching Cheese And Ham Flavors
Matching cheese and ham flavors is all about finding the perfect balance between salty and sweet, and bold and mild flavors. When two flavors are complementary, they enhance each other and create a more enjoyable eating experience.
Chemically, the saltiness in ham can enhance the umami flavor in cheese, which is responsible for its rich and savory taste. But pairing cheese and ham isn’t just about chemistry – it’s also about personal preference. Some people might prefer a more intense and strong pairing, while others might prefer a milder combination.
Another important factor to consider when pairing cheese and ham is the texture. A soft and creamy cheese, like brie, can complement the chewiness of a thick slice of ham, while a harder cheese, like cheddar, can provide a contrasting texture that adds interest to the dish.
It’s also worth noting that different types of ham and cheese will pair better with certain wines or beers. For example, a salty prosciutto might pair well with a light and fruity red wine, while a sharp cheddar might be better suited to a hoppy IPA.
From Hard To Soft: Different Cheese Types For Your Ham Sandwiches
If you’re making a ham sandwich, choosing the right cheese can make all the difference. Here are a few different cheese types to consider:
Hard Cheeses – Hard cheeses like parmesan or gruyere are perfect for adding a salty and nutty flavor to your ham sandwich. They’re also great for grating and adding to salads or pasta dishes.
Semi-Hard Cheeses – Semi-hard cheeses like cheddar or gouda are versatile and work well with almost any type of ham. They can be sliced or shredded and added to your sandwich, or melted on top for added richness.
Soft Cheeses – Soft cheeses like brie or camembert are great for adding a creamy and indulgent texture to your sandwich. They pair best with mild and delicate hams, like cooked ham or Virginia ham.
Another cheese type to consider for your ham sandwich is blue cheese. Blue cheese has a strong and tangy flavor that pairs well with salty ham. It can be crumbled and added to your sandwich or melted on top for added richness. However, it’s important to note that blue cheese may not be for everyone, as its strong flavor can be overpowering for some.
The Perfect Wine Pairing For Your Ham And Cheese Board
If you’re serving a ham and cheese board for a dinner party or gathering, it’s important to choose the right wine to pair with it. Here are a few wine and cheese pairings to consider:
Pinot Grigio and Gouda – The light and crisp flavor of Pinot Grigio pairs perfectly with the sweet and nutty flavor of gouda cheese.
Chardonnay and Brie – The buttery and rich flavor of brie cheese goes perfectly with a full-bodied and oaky Chardonnay.
Merlot and Parmesan – The bold and complex flavor of aged parmesan cheese pairs perfectly with the robust and full-bodied taste of Merlot.
Another great wine and cheese pairing to consider for your ham and cheese board is Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese. The bright and acidic flavor of Sauvignon Blanc complements the tangy and creamy flavor of goat cheese.
If you’re looking for a red wine option, try pairing your ham and cheese board with a Cabernet Sauvignon and sharp cheddar cheese. The bold and tannic flavor of Cabernet Sauvignon pairs perfectly with the sharp and tangy flavor of cheddar cheese.
Cheese And Ham Pairing Ideas For Your Next Party Platter
If you’re looking for some new and creative ways to serve cheese and ham together, here are a few ideas:
1. Ham and Brie Crostini – Top toasted baguette slices with sliced ham and brie cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
2. Blue Cheese and Prosciutto Flatbread – Top a pre-made flatbread with blue cheese crumbles and sliced prosciutto, and bake until crispy and golden brown.
3. Honey Ham and Swiss Sliders – Layer sliced honey-baked ham and Swiss cheese on slider buns, and top with honey mustard dressing.
4. Charcuterie Board – Create a beautiful charcuterie board with a variety of cheeses, cured meats, and accompaniments such as crackers, fruits, and nuts. Arrange the ham slices and cheese cubes in an aesthetically pleasing manner, and let your guests mix and match their own combinations.
5. Ham and Cheese Quiche – Whip up a delicious ham and cheese quiche for a brunch or lunch party. Mix diced ham and shredded cheese into the egg mixture, and bake in a pie crust until golden brown and set.
How To Store Cheese And Ham To Keep Them Fresh And Flavorful
To keep your ham and cheese fresh and flavorful, it’s important to store them properly. Here are a few tips:
1. Wrap cheese in wax paper or parchment paper before storing it in the refrigerator. This will help prevent it from drying out and losing its flavor.
2. Store ham in an airtight container or plastic wrap. This will help prevent it from drying out and developing a tough texture.
3. Keep both ham and cheese at their optimal temperature. Ham should be kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while cheese should be kept between 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. It’s important to note that different types of cheese require different storage methods. Soft cheeses, such as brie or camembert, should be stored in their original packaging or wrapped in wax paper and placed in a sealed container. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar or parmesan, can be wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in a resealable bag with the air squeezed out. Blue cheeses, such as gorgonzola or roquefort, should be wrapped in foil or plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator’s cheese drawer.
Adding A Twist: Unconventional Cheese And Ham Combinations To Try
If you’re feeling adventurous, try these unconventional cheese and ham combinations:
1. Goat Cheese and Ham – The tangy and creamy flavor of goat cheese goes surprisingly well with salty and savory hams like prosciutto or serrano ham.
2. Feta Cheese and Ham – The crumbly and salty flavor of feta cheese pairs well with salty and intense hams like prosciutto or black forest ham.
3. Havarti Cheese and Ham – The mild and buttery flavor of Havarti cheese complements mild and delicate hams like honey-baked ham or Virginia ham.
4. Blue Cheese and Ham – The bold and pungent flavor of blue cheese adds a unique twist to the salty and savory taste of ham. Try it with a smoked ham for an extra layer of flavor.
Cooking With Cheese And Ham: Delicious Recipes You Need To Try Today
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate cheese and ham into your cooking, here are a few delicious recipes:
1. Ham and Cheese Quiche – Mix sliced ham and shredded cheddar cheese into a quiche filling, and bake until golden brown and creamy.
2. Ham and Cheese Omelette – Fold sliced ham and shredded Swiss cheese into an omelette for a protein-packed breakfast.
3. Ham and Cheese Stuffed Chicken – Stuff chicken breasts with sliced ham and shredded mozzarella cheese, and bake until cooked through and cheesy.
Whether you’re making a sandwich or serving a cheese and ham board, choosing the right cheese can elevate the flavor and texture of your dish. With these tips and ideas, you’re sure to find the perfect cheese to pair with your ham.
But cheese and ham can be used in more than just savory dishes. For a sweet and savory twist, try adding shredded cheddar cheese and diced ham to your favorite cornbread recipe. The cheese adds a creamy texture and the ham provides a salty contrast to the sweetness of the cornbread.
Another way to incorporate cheese and ham into your cooking is by making a cheesy ham and potato casserole. Layer sliced potatoes, diced ham, and shredded cheddar cheese in a baking dish, and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. This dish is perfect for a cozy family dinner or a potluck with friends.