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Man of the Moment
The parent of Pepper Jack―Monterey Jack, was made popular by David Jack (after whom the cheese was aptly named) in the late 1800s.
Cheese is a dairy product that is loved by all (barring the unfortunate lactose-intolerant!). It is a versatile product as it can be eaten as is, served as an assorted platter with some wine of your choice, or eaten with crackers, in sandwiches, with nachos, quesadillas, burgers, soups, and everything in between! The type of milk that is used to make cheese plays a huge role in how it tastes, and the nuances can be recognized from the flavor profiles, the way they look, the texture, the aging, the place it was produced, and the methods used to produce it. Over time, cheese developed an identity of its own, and today, you will find a different cheese for every region, state, and country that you could think of; from the cottage cheese in India, to the Bergkäse of Austria, to the Halloumi of Cyprus, the Brie and Blue Cheese of France, the Feta of Greece, Fontina, Mozzarella, and Mascarpone of Italy, the Gouda, the Swiss, and oh, we can't go on!

And back to the lovely country of America, we have a wonderful cheese that most don't realize was a product of genius handed down and developed in its very own beautiful farms. We are talking of the Pepper Jack cheese, which was first produced by the Mexican Franciscan friars in California. Originally thought to have been handed down by the Spanish (who in turn were taught by the Italians), this robust and sharp cheese is the perfect accompaniment for the lightest of snacks, to the more rich and delectable meals.

We bring you a Pepper Jack cheese recipe that is easy to make, and a crowd-pleaser; one that you can store and use to spruce up meals that otherwise seem to lack a punch of flavor!
HOW TO MAKE PEPPER JACK CHEESE
Basic Recipe
Pepper Jack Slices
Ingredients
● Whole Milk, 2 gallons
● Direct-Set Mesophilic Starter, 1 packet
● Liquid Rennet, ½ tsp.
● Jalapeño Peppers, as required
● Habanero Peppers, as required
● Cheese Salt, 1 tsp.
● Cheesecloth
● Ladle
● Water Bath/Double Boiler
● Colander/Strainer

Preparation time: 20 Minutes

Cook time: 3 Hours

Serves: Based on Usage
Instructions
♦ Pour the milk in a huge pan, and bring it to boil at 88ºF. Use a thermometer to make sure you do not go over. The trick to make perfect cheese is making sure you get the right amount of heat at the right temperature.

♦ Add the mesophilic starter and stir, making sure it mixes evenly. Cover and allow the milk to ripen up to a temperature of 90ºF for another half hour.

♦ Chop your peppers and add them to the milk. Make sure they are fine and no chunky bits enter the mix. Stir to make sure they are blended well.

♦ Next, add the liquid Rennet to the milk, stir gently with a down and up motion for a minute, and then cover and leave it to set at the same temperature of 90ºF for an added half hour. This time can be slightly reduced if you notice that your curd comes out with a clean break.

♦ Cut the curd into cubes of ½ or ¼ on an inch and let it rest for 30-45 minutes.

♦ Heat the curd again, this time at a 100ºF, and slowly increase this temperature by 2 degrees after a gap of every five minutes. Stir this gently to avoid matting of the curd (make sure you don't over-stir).

♦ Keep the curd at this temperature for 25-30 minutes. Let the curd then rest further for five more minutes.

♦ To check the moisture of the curd at this point, grab a few chunks, squeezing it over your sink. If they separate easily, you're on the right path!

♦ Pour out the whey next, to level the curd. Allow this to set for another 20 minutes, while keeping the temperature set at 100ºF.

♦ Line your colander with the cheesecloth and carefully drain your curd into it. Sprinkle the salt on the curd, mix, and let all the moisture drain.

♦ Make sure all the liquid is drained before pressing the cloth and tying it up. Place a 3 lb. weight to hold the cheese down and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

♦ Peel away the cheesecloth, reverse the cheese, and repeat the previous step, this time placing a 10 lb. weight over it. Leave it like this for another 12 hours.

♦ Take your cheese out and let it dry out at room temperature. This has to be left for three days to dry. During this period, turn the cheese over at least twice a day to ensure that the moisture in the cheese dries out evenly.

♦ Your very own block of Pepper Jack cheese in now ready to chow down as you please!
We now give you two lip-smacking recipes that incorporate the yummy cheese you just made, which are sure to win over guests and family members alike!
RECIPES USING PEPPER JACK CHEESE
Pepper Jack Cheese Soup
Pepper Jack Cheese Soup
Ingredients
● Pepper Jack Cheese (Shredded), 2½ cups
● Chicken Broth, 1 can
● Bacon Bits, 2 tbsp.
● Onion (grated/finely chopped), 1
● Minced Garlic, 6 cloves
● All-purpose Flour, 2 tbsp.
● Milk, 2 cups
● Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tsp.
● Tabasco sauce, ¼ tsp.
● Ground Pepper, to taste
● Butter, ¼ cup
● Parsley Leaves, to garnish

Preparation time: 20 Minutes

Cook time: 10 Minutes

Serves: 4
Instructions
♦ Melt your butter in a pan over medium heat and stir in the flour, cooking it for five minutes till it turns golden brown. Make sure there are no lumps. This is your roux.

♦ Add the onions and garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions turn soft.

♦ Add the chicken broth, slowly whisking it in. Add the milk and do the same. Bring this mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Slowly bring this down to a medium-low heat and stir occasionally to ensure that there are no lumps.

♦ Cook for 15 minutes until thick and smooth.

♦ In the meantime, add a little butter in another pan, and crisp up your bacon bits.

♦ Take your soup of the heat and quickly mix in the shredded cheese to ensure that it melts in evenly. Add the Worcestershire sauce, the Tabasco, and black pepper to taste.

♦ Ladle your soup into bowls, and garnish with the bacon bits and parsley leaves.

♦ You can also add veggies of your choice (broccolis, carrots, beans, etc.) for a more healthy and rounded meal!
Corn and Cheese Chowder
Corn and Cheese Chowder
Ingredients
● Ears of Corn (off the kernel), 2 cups
● Pepper Jack Cheese (shredded), 1 cup
● Cheddar Cheese (shredded), 1 cup
● Onion (chopped), 1
● Green Onions (finely chopped), ⅓ cup
● Bacon Slices, chopped, 3
● Bell Peppers (finely diced, used red, yellow and green for added color), 3
● All-purpose Flour, ¼ cup
● Butter, 4 tbsp.
● Chicken Broth, 3 cups
● Milk or Half-and-half, 2 cups
● Bread Bowls

Preparation time: 15 Minutes

Cook time: 20 Minutes

Serves: 12
Instructions
♦ Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat; add the onions and bacon and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook for another 2-4 minutes.

♦ Now add the corn and cook for a further 2 minutes.

♦ Sprinkle the flour evenly over the mixture; add the broth and stir well. Let this cook and thicken for 2 to 4 minutes.

♦ Add the chicken broth and let it simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

♦ Add the cheddar and Pepper Jack cheese and stir well. Take the chowder off the heat.

♦ Add the green onions to garnish and check seasoning.

♦ Gently ladle your chowder into the bread bowls, and just like that! This divine meal is ready to serve and chow down!
Pepper Jack is versatile, soft, and creamy, and is the perfect accompaniment to any meal! So, have fun, experiment, and don't be shy to gain a few pounds!