This month’s special cheese is Organic Clothbound Cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese, handmade in Vermont.
The Grafton Village Cheese Company was founded in 1892 as the Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company, to convert surplus milk from local dairy farmers into cheese. In 1912, the cheesemaking factory burned down and the community had no cheese facility until 1962, when the Windham Foundation restored the factory and brought cheesemaking back to the community. The Foundation is dedicated to promoting the rural communities of Vermont. The profits from Grafton Village Cheese go back into the Foundation to further its commitment to keep rural Vermont alive and thriving. Today, quality and taste are still the hallmarks of the company’s products.
The Grafton Cave Aged line of fine cheeses takes Grafton beyond its roots in Vermont Cheddar cheese. The cheese is carefully matured in Grafton’s own cave aging facility using raw milk from small Vermont family farms that is thermalized and contains no artificial hormones. The rennet used is non GMO microbial rennet, suitable for vegetarians.
Organic Clothbound Cheddar is classic milled curd cow milk cheddar wrapped in cheesecloth while it ages slowly in Grafton’s caves for a minimum of six months. Grafton Organic Clothbound delivers a very bold cheese with both nut and mushroom notes.
Grafton Organic Clothbound is delicious any time of year on a cheese plate or in a sandwich or just eaten out of hand. Here are a few recipes as well.
Corn Pudding with Grafton Organic Clothbound Cheddar
Pre-heat oven to 350º F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish or 6 individual ramekins.
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped red pepper
½ cup chopped onion
kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn–about 1 cup
1 ½ cups half and half
6 large eggs
¼ cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces Grafton Organic Clothbound Cheddar, grated
Melt the butter in a medium skilled over medium-high heat. Cook the pepper and onion until translucent and tender. Transfer mixture to a plate to cool. In a blender or food processor, combine corn and ¼ cup of the half and half and puree until thick. Add remaining half and half, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Process until well combined. Stir in the cheese and the reserved peppers and onion. Pour into the baking dish or ramekins. Bake until the pudding is set all the way by checking to see if a paring knife comes out clean when inserted in the center–50 to 60 minutes. If pudding starts to get too brown, cover it loosely with a piece of foil. Serve immediately.
Gafton Organic Clothbound Cheddar Polenta Croquettes
6-8 cups water
2 cups cornmeal
1 ½ t salt
½ cup grated Grafton Organic Clothbound Cheddar
6 scallions, thinly sliced
3 T chopped parsley
¼ cup whole milk
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
olive oil, for frying
In a large saucepan, bring the water to boil, then whisk in the cornmeal in a slow stream to prevent any lumps. Add the salt, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cornmeal is soft and the polenta is quite firm and pulling away from the sides of the pot (if the cornmeal is not yet soft, add water as necessary). Add the cheddar, scallions, and parsley, stir well to combine, then pour the polenta onto a baking sheet to cool and set up.
Once the polenta is cooled and firm, cut it into 3-inch squares or circles (it should be about 1/2 inch thick). Whisk the eggs and milk together in a small bowl and spread the breadcrumbs on a plate. Dip each polenta croquette in the egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs.
Heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Carefully add the croquettes, cooking in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Cook until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes, then flip carefully to cook the other side. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven while cooking the remaining croquettes. Serve with sprinkled parsley.
Cheddar Salad w/Grafton Organic Clothbound and Heirloom Apples
6 Heirloom apples
1 Cup of golden raisins
1 Cup of pecans or hazelnuts, toasted
8 ounces Grafton Organic Clothbound Cheddar, shaved
2 cups of arugula, washed and dried
¼ cup homemade vinaigrette
Core and cube the apples–peel if you wish–and place in a medium bowl. Add the raisins, nuts and cheddar. Gently fold in the vinaigrette. Refrigerate for at least an hour and toss in the arugula just before serving.
Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers. The NFCA is a network of more than 30 food co-ops in New England, locally owned by more than 90,000 people like you. For more information, please visit www.nfca.coop.