Our Cave to Co-op for November 2020 is Shelburne Smoked Cheddar—an award-winning raw Brown Swiss Cow-Milk Cheddar, Hickory-wood cold-smoked—from Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, Vermont.
One cannot speak of the agricultural history of Vermont without speaking of Shelburne Farms. In 1886, William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb began their plan for Shelburne Farms, a model farm built to demonstrate innovative agricultural techniques and develop a breeding program for an “elegant workhorse.” It took 6 years and over 300 workers, but by 1902 the property had grown to encompass 3,800 acres and four impressive buildings. The main house had 25 bedrooms. The architect was Robert H. Robertson. The landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the man responsible for that epitome of rural beauty in the heart of a city, New York’s Central Park. Over 1,000 trees were planted each year, and 20 miles of crushed stone roads were laid.
In its day, Shelburne Farms was one of the foremost agricultural estates in the country. But the cost of maintaining a venture on such a huge scale was prohibitive, and the family struggled to hold on to the property until the mid-1970s when the farm was incorporated as a nonprofit entity dedicated to conservation and education programs.
In the 1950s, the farm acquired a herd of Brown Swiss cows. When Vermont agriculture laws prohibited the sale of raw milk, the farm began making cheese, and today Shelburne Farms cheddar is prized throughout the world and considered to be one of the great cheddars produced in America.
Shelburne Farms’ agricultural operations provide real-life processes and learning opportunities that directly support their educational mission to cultivate a conservation ethic. Through sustainable land use and practices, they continuously seek to improve the health of the soil and the economic and ecological vitality of the Vermont community.
All the milking cows in the purebred herd of Brown Swiss are raised on the farm and graze on pasture from spring to fall. Only their milk – absolutely fresh and untreated and rbST/rbGH free – is used to make the cheese. The only other cheese ingredients are starter culture, rennet, and salt.
Shelburne Farms Smoked Cheddar has a memorable, earthy flavor, golden color, and a dense, flaky texture that is a bit drier and more crumbly than its younger counterpart. The 6-8 hours of cold smoking with hickory gives the cheese a smoky almost bacon-like flavor. It features a sensational interplay of sharpness and sweet notes.
Croque Monsieur Galette
⅔ cup whole milk
8 oz Shelburne Smoked Cheddar, grated
2 tsp corn flour
all-butter puff pastry, 1 lb block
Dijon mustard 1-2 tbsp
8 oz thickly sliced ham
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
1. Heat the milk in a large pan until just simmering. Gradually stir in the Shelburne Smoked Cheddar until melted. Mix the corn flour with 1 tbsp water then add to the pan and bubble up gently until thickened. Season with salt and white pepper, then pour into a clingfilm-lined, round 7-inch cake tin or baking dish. Put in the fridge for 2 hours or until completely chilled.
2. Heat the oven to 400ºF. Halve the pastry and roll into two 9 inch circles. Put one piece on a baking sheet and spread over the mustard in a 7-inch circle. Lay the ham on the mustard. Flip the set cheese out of its tin, remove the cling film and sit it on the ham. Brush the border of the pastry with egg then drape the second piece of pastry on top. Press around the cheese and ham, eliminating any air. Trim the edges then crimp to seal. Brush all over with some egg then put in the fridge for 10 minutes. Take the galette out and use the back of a knife to score a border ½ inch from the edge, then score lines from the center to the border to create a pattern. Glaze with egg again.
3.Bake for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 350ºF and cook for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Leave for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.
Smoked Cheddar Naan Bread
7 g or 1 packet of fast-action dried yeast
4 oz natural yogurt
1 cup warm water
3⅓ cups white bread flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp fine salt
8 oz Shelburne Smoked Cheddar, grated
1 8-oz ball mozzarella
1 green chili, seeded and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
cilantro, finely chopped
black onion seeds (nigella) or sesame seeds
clarified butter or ghee
1.Mix the yeast with the yogurt and 1 cup of water. Tip the flour and salt into another bowl, and stir the liquids into the dry ingredients.
2.Knead until the dough comes together, then tip out onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes, or 5 minutes in a mixer with the dough hook, until really smooth. Put back into a clean bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
3.Drain the mozzarella, tear into small pieces, and drain again on kitchen paper. Mix the chili, garlic, cilantro, cheddar, and mozzarella. Season with a little salt and lots of black pepper.
4.When the dough is ready, knead briefly on a floured work surface. Cut into 4 pieces and roll them out in an oval until they no longer spring back, about 12 inches long.
5.Cover half of the dough with half the cheese mix and fold them over. Roll again.
6.Repeat with more cheese mix, fold over, and roll gently again, so you get two layers of cheese between the dough.