Ham and cheese is a classic pairing that has stood the test of time. It is often served as a sandwich, on a party platter, or as a main course. But with so many different types of cheeses available, it can be challenging to know which one pairs best with your ham. In this article, we’ll explore the top ten cheeses to pair with ham, the science behind this delicious combination, how to choose the perfect cheese, and tips for serving ham and cheese plates at your next gathering. So, let’s dive in!
The Top 10 Cheeses to Pair with Ham
When it comes to pairing ham with cheese, certain types of cheeses work better than others. Here are the top ten cheeses that complement ham perfectly:
- Swiss cheese: Its nutty and sweet flavor pairs perfectly with the saltiness of ham.
- Cheddar cheese: It is sharp, salty, and creamy, making it a great partner for ham.
- Provolone cheese: Its smoky flavor and melt-in-the-mouth texture complement the rich taste of ham.
- Brie cheese: It has a buttery and creamy texture that goes well with ham’s mild flavor.
- Gouda cheese: With its nutty and caramel flavor, gouda cheese is a perfect complement to the meaty ham taste.
- Mozzarella cheese: Its mild taste and gooey texture work well with both cold and hot ham.
- Blue cheese: The intense flavor of blue cheese can balance out the sweet and smoky flavor of ham.
- Manchego cheese: The nutty and tangy taste of manchego cheese pairs well with the salty flavor of ham.
- Goat cheese: The creamy, tangy taste of goat cheese and ham make a perfect combination.
- Parmesan cheese: The salty and nutty flavor of parmesan cheese brings out the flavor of ham.
It’s important to note that the type of ham you are pairing with cheese can also make a difference in the flavor profile. For example, a honey-glazed ham may pair better with a creamy brie cheese, while a smoked ham may be better suited for a sharp cheddar. Experimenting with different combinations can lead to discovering new and delicious flavor pairings.
The Science Behind Why Ham and Cheese Go So Well Together
There is a scientific explanation as to why ham and cheese are such a perfect match. The saltiness of ham is balanced by the creaminess of most cheeses. Additionally, the lactose in cheese helps to cut the saltiness of ham. This combination creates a perfect balance of sweet, salty, and creamy flavors. Also, when heated, the cheese melts into the ham, creating a gooey and delicious texture.
Furthermore, the combination of ham and cheese is not only delicious but also provides a good source of protein. Ham is a great source of protein, while cheese is a good source of both protein and calcium. This makes it a perfect snack or meal option for those who are looking for a quick and easy way to get their daily dose of protein and calcium.
How to Choose the Perfect Cheese to Complement Your Ham
When it comes to choosing the perfect cheese for your ham, you need to think about the type of ham you’re serving. For example, if you’re serving a smoked ham, you will need to choose a cheese that complements it. In general, milder cheeses pair well with milder ham, while more robust and flavorful cheese can complement stronger flavored hams. You may want to experiment with different kinds of cheese to find your perfect match.
The Different Flavors and Textures of Cheeses That Go Best with Ham
There are several different flavors and textures of cheese that work well with ham, including creamy, nutty, and smoky cheese. A creamy cheese like brie, or goat’s cheese work well with a mild and sweet ham. Nutty cheese such as Swiss cheese, gouda, or manchego are great with salty cured ham. Finally, smoky cheese like provolone or cheddar will complement the smoky flavor of ham.
It’s important to note that the type of ham you are using can also affect the choice of cheese. For example, a honey glazed ham pairs well with a tangy blue cheese, while a prosciutto ham is best served with a sharp parmesan or pecorino romano cheese. Additionally, if you’re looking for a more unique pairing, try a spicy pepper jack cheese with a smoked ham for a bold and flavorful combination.
From Gouda to Brie: A Guide to Pairing Cheeses with Different Types of Ham
Pairing cheese with different types of ham does take some thought. For example, if you’re serving honey baked ham, you may want to pair it with a creamy brie. Smoked ham, on the other hand, goes well with aged cheddar or gouda cheese. If you’re serving boiled ham, try pairing it with a nutty manchego or Swiss cheese. For country ham, which is very salty and flavorful, try pairing it with a pungent blue cheese.
It’s important to consider the texture of the cheese as well. Soft cheeses like brie and camembert pair well with thinly sliced ham, while harder cheeses like cheddar and gouda can be paired with thicker slices of ham. Additionally, if you’re serving a variety of hams, consider offering a cheese board with a selection of different cheeses to accommodate different tastes and preferences.
The History of the Ham and Cheese Combination
The combination of ham and cheese goes back centuries. People have been curing and salting ham for centuries, while cheese making is an ancient art. However, it was not until the 18th century that the sandwich, which popularized the ham and cheese combination, was invented. Since then, the ham and cheese combination has become a staple of cuisine worldwide.
One of the earliest recorded instances of the ham and cheese combination was in ancient Rome, where they would serve ham and cheese together as a snack. The combination was also popular in medieval Europe, where it was often served as a hearty meal for peasants.
Today, the ham and cheese combination can be found in a variety of dishes, from classic sandwiches to gourmet pizzas and quiches. It is a versatile combination that can be enjoyed in many different ways, and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Tips for Serving Ham and Cheese Plates at Your Next Party or Gathering
Serving a ham and cheese plate at a party or gathering can be a simple but elegant way to impress your guests. Here are some tips to do it right:
- Serve a variety of cheese, including mild and strong flavors.
- Provide a variety of cheeses textures, such as hard, soft, and semi-soft cheese.
- Pair the ham and cheese with crackers, bread, or fruit.
- Presentation is key. Arrange the cheese and ham plate in an attractive way.
Another important aspect to consider when serving a ham and cheese plate is the quantity. Make sure to have enough cheese and ham for all your guests, and consider their dietary restrictions or preferences. You can also add some variety by including different types of ham, such as prosciutto or smoked ham.
Additionally, don’t forget to provide some accompaniments to enhance the flavors of the ham and cheese. You can include condiments like mustard, honey, or jam, or even some nuts or olives. This will add some extra flavor and texture to the plate, and your guests will appreciate the attention to detail.
How to Create Unique and Delicious Sandwiches with Ham and Cheese
Ham and cheese sandwich is the go-to lunch for many people. However, there are creative ways to elevate this classic sandwich. Try experimenting with different types of bread, spreading mustard, or adding greens, such as lettuce or arugula, to add freshness and crunch. Jam or a chutney will add an extra dimension to your ham and cheese sandwich.
Another way to make your ham and cheese sandwich unique is by adding some protein. You can add bacon, turkey, or even a fried egg to your sandwich. This will not only add flavor but also make your sandwich more filling and satisfying.
If you want to make your ham and cheese sandwich healthier, you can substitute the bread with a wrap or a lettuce leaf. You can also use low-fat cheese and lean ham to reduce the calorie count. Adding avocado or hummus instead of mayonnaise will also make your sandwich healthier and more flavorful.
Health Benefits of Eating Cheese with Your Ham: Is It a Nutritious Combination?
While ham and cheese are delicious together, it’s essential to consider the nutritional value of the combination. Cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, and B vitamins, while ham provides protein, zinc, and iron. However, ham can be high in sodium, so it’s essential to be mindful of your intake if you have high blood pressure. Additionally, some cheeses can be high in saturated fat, so moderation is key.
In conclusion, ham and cheese are perfect partners, creating a balanced taste of salt, creaminess, and sweetness. Experiment with different types of cheese and ham to find your perfect match. Whether it’s a sandwich or a party platter, ham and cheese never disappoint.
Furthermore, recent studies have shown that consuming cheese with ham can have additional health benefits. The combination of the two has been found to improve bone health, as the calcium in cheese and the zinc in ham work together to strengthen bones. Additionally, the protein in both foods can aid in muscle growth and repair. So not only is ham and cheese a delicious combination, but it can also provide numerous health benefits when consumed in moderation.