What is Pepper Jack cheese?
Pepper Jack cheese combines the buttery, creamy flavour of Monterey Jack cheese with the intensity of spicy peppers such as jalapeños, habanero and serrano peppers. Even though you would tend to think its spicy flavour would overwhelm your taste buds – the peppery flavour gets stronger as the cheese ages so that it can be pretty zesty – this semi-soft American cheese will surprise you with a delicate buttery taste that only leaves you wanting more.
How is Pepper Jack cheese made?
Jack cheese, also called Monterey Jack cheese, is one of America's original cheeses. Monterey Jack cheese originated during the 1700s with Franciscan friars in Monterey, Mexico - today, California - who produced ‘queso blanco pais’, a soft milk cheese. This cheese started as a simple way for Franciscan friars to feed themselves and make a little money. In the late 19th century, David Jack – a California businessman located in Monterey county – took control of the land previously occupied by Mexican Franciscan friars. David Jack is said to have been the first businessman to sell this cheese. Later, it was named Monterey Jack. Many Jack cheeses are sold as melting cheeses, with a nutty tang and a rich, buttery taste.
Later, some producers began to add small bits of chopped spicy peppers – jalapeños, serrano peppers and habañero peppers – to the curds of their Jack cheese, creating Pepper Jack Cheese.
Delicious ways to cook with Pepper Jack cheese
Pepper Jack cheese is a great way to add an unexpected dash of flavour to old favourites and it is an excellent addition to any kitchen. From grilled cheese sandwiches to complicated casseroles, Pepper Jack Cheese adds a magical touch to any recipe, elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary. Pepper Jack Cheese melts very well. This makes it great for quesadillas, nachos and chicken empanadas.
The moist texture of Pepper Jack cheese makes it ideal for grating over dishes. It is particularly satisfying in combination with barbecued meats such as beef, and it can be used on burgers, steaks, and other braised dishes as well. In addition, you may serve cubes or slices of Pepper Jack as part of a cheese plate. For contrast and great texture, try it with melons, grapes, pickled vegetables, and olives. For a picnic, slice it into sandwiches with bologna. Try Pepper Jack cheese in mac and cheese with some fresh slices of jalapeño pepper to create a piquant dish. Wrap it with bacon or stuff it into a chicken breast for a flavour explosion. You can even put a cube into the middle of a homemade burger to get a melted cheese effect when you bite into it.