Stilton. The King of English Cheeses
Stilton. A Great British Cheese
Stilton is a soft, blue veined cheese with a crumbly texture, encrusted in a dark yellow rind. It has a rich mellow flavour and a creamy, mouth watering aftertaste giving it a certain piquancy. Milder than either Roquefort or Gorgonzola, Stilton has a unique character and flavour all of its own.
Stilton is an aromatic addition to any cheese board, especially if port is being served, adds a distinctive tang to salads, soups and quiches, melts well over steak and makes a real difference to sauces, starters and hot snacks.
Although there are references to a soft white cheese known as Stilton dating back to the early 17th century, the cheese which bears its name was never made in the town of Stilton itself. The town actually lies on an important coaching route between London and Edinburgh and the inn keepers, sold the distinctive local cheese from Cambridgeshire and Nottinghamshire. Popularity of the cheese soon spread and Cooper Thornhill, the enterprising landlord of the Bell Inn, formed a cooperative with Frances Pawlett, a famous lady cheese maker from Wymondham to increase production.
Stilton is made from pasteurised milk to which a clotting agent and blue mould spores known as “penicillium roqueforte” are first added. The resulting curds are left to drain over night before being cut into blocks, allowed to drain further and then milled and salted. The curds are placed into moulds and turned for five to six days to drain naturally, allowing an even distribution of moisture throughout the cheese. The cheeses are then matured and turned regularly for five weeks until they form a crust, at which stage they are pierced with stainless steel rods to allow air into the cheese and encourage the distinctive blue veins of mould.
1 onion, finely chopped
Zest of ½ lemon
1½ pint chicken stock
2tbsp single cream (optional)
Small bunch of chives, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pan over a medium heat, melt the butter and cook the onion for about 5-7minutes, until soft and golden. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for a minute or two, stirring frequently. Add the lemon zest and stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Crumble the cheese into the soup and simmer for about 3 minutes until it is melted. Remove the pan from the heat and season. Serve with a swirl of cream and sprinkle with chives.