In a week from today, you'll probably be shopped, planned, and (partially) prepped for Thanksgiving. If you want some Thanksgiving-worthy cheese ideas, look no further than the archives of our Cheesemonger columns. From cheese balls to the tastiest homemade cheese crackers. to spreads, accompaniments, and all the best things to serve with a cheese platter, here's your go-to Thanksgiving guide on how to incorporate copious amounts of cheesy goodness into your meal next week. You can thank us later.
American Cheese Favorites
Key players on a Thanksgiving cheese board. Considering the occasion, it only makes sense to showcase American wheels.
1. Jasper Hill Farm's Harbison or Winnemere. Both bound with spruce bark from the farm's property, which imparts some serious woodsy flavors to the paste of the cheeses. Winnemere is washed, so it's a bit stinkier, and Harbison is more of a bloomy rind. Both are eggy, meaty, and definitely autumnal.
2. Redwood Hill Farm's Camellia is California's answer to Camembert. A small round gets you far. Serve with concord grapes, persimmons, figs, and dried fruit for a veritable Thanksgiving cheese plate.
3. Red Rock and Dunbarton Blue cheeses from Roelli cheese in Wisconsin were two of my favorite American cheeses last year. Both are great Thanksgiving picks because they're hardy, toothsome cheddars, made with blue mold, which gives them a unique kick and a backbone to stand up to the rest of your rich food.
4. Trader Joe's Cinnamon cheese has tremendous synergy with the entire Thanksgiving spread. And warm spices like cinnamon have that inherent ability to make holiday time even more festive.
5. Pleasant Ridge Reserve: A superstar of the American cheese portfolio. If you don't know it by now, you should get to know it next Thursday. Do it right: Get it out of the fridge a couple of hours before serving, eat it with just about any kind of beverage for ultimate satisfaction-- white, red, beer, martini-- and just like that, this cheese has made your meal. Or at least your cocktail hour.
6. Nettle Meadow Kunik. Words can't explain the tastiness of this superb triple creme mixed milk (goat and cow) bloomy rind. It's a bit pricey, at about $16 for a half pound drum, so it warrants a special occasion. Thanksgiving? Yep.
7. Cowgirl Creamery's Redhawk is stinky and meaty, but also over-the-top creamy. That's what you get when you make a washed rind cheese into a triple creme. When perfectly ripe, you'll get a magnificently complex drum of cheese, tasting of butter, hay, and bacon, all at once. Best served with candied nuts or something a bit sweet, like honey, dried figs, or riesling.
Great Cheesy Recipes and Side Dishes
8. Pommes Aligote may be just the ticket if you're looking to vary the way you do mashed potatoes. Stringy to the point of string cheese, these mashed potatoes require fork twirling. Serve with stuffing and a pool of gravy.
9. Gruyere and Hazelnut Crackers are special. When you make something from scratch like a cracker-- so easily purchased in a store-- you makes guests feel special. And these crackers taste better than packaged versions, obviously. Make the dough ahead of time, and simply slice and bake. Serve with dips or, of course, more cheese.
10. Parmesan Cheese pie Crust. Good for savory quiches, galettes, or tarts. Flakey, cheesy, so so good, and perfect for an apple pie if you want to switch it up a bit from your go-to pie dough recipe.
11. For the sports fans, this Cheesy Spicy Popcorn makes great cocktail hour fare, or would be entirely snackable with some beer while watching football. Cheesy and spicy, it is, I'm not lying.
12. These colorful, updated Cheese Balls are so, so good. There's one that's laden with horseradish and cheddar, one encrusted with quick homemade candied almonds, and another that's goat cheese with seeds, like an everything bagel in cheese ball form. All are super tasty, make ahead, and perfect with crackers or crudites. Cute, too.
13. Cauliflower and Chestnut Gratin with Parmesan Cream is one of those dishes you can assemble before and bake later. With a rich base of cream seasoned with parmesan and topped with breadcrumbs, it an amalgam of all the best food groups in casserole form.
14. First, check out this inventive list of 10 things to serve with cheese to make your spread special. And different.
15. Homemade Membrillo, or quince paste, is just about as classic as it gets, but making it yourself is just plain satisfying.
16. Roasted Grapes for cheese platters is one of the more innovative and easy things you can do for your cheese. Pretty, too. Make ahead and serve at room temperature. If you're a fan of honey or fig jam with your cheese, you're sure to love this. And the best part is that it takes less than 5 minutes of active kitchen time.
17. Red onion and golden raisin jam is one of my favorite things to serve with cheese. It's great with pates, terrines, and cured meats, too. The colors are autumnal and the flavor is outrageous. Cheese-wise, try everything from fresh goat to cheddar to aged sheep.
18. Date and cherry nut bread is something you can bake in the morning. Make the dough the night before-- it's a no-knead wonder-- and the next day you'll have quite possibly the best accompaniment for cheese ever. A bit sweet, very nutty, and totally worthy of a feast.
Happy (early) Thanksgiving!
Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and private chef in New York City.
(Images: See link for photo credits)