Our family has a long tradition of gathering on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving for “Soup Night”. Its a great way to have dinner for guests who “trickle in” over the evening from the travel points and find a good meal awaiting them. My oldest son, Ian’s chili is one of the soups that has become something anticipated by all the chili lovers in our large family and friends.
Along with the soups are all the sides and hor d’oeuvres we love as well. This year I decided to bring a marinated cheese. Our family has Hispanic roots so I chose Manchego, an aged sheep’s milk cheese from Spain. To flavor the olive oil, I used cumin seed and dried Guajillo pepper, along with garlic and fresh thyme.
Marinating cheese is easy. The cheese is cut into small (1/2 inch) pieces and covered with olive oil with herbs and spices added. Marinate the cheese a least a day to get good flavor and up to 3 days before serving. I’ve found 2 days to work best for flavor and retaining good texture to the cheese. This one is especially tasty.
1 lb of Manchego cheese, rind removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
1 Tbs cumin seeds
1 dried Guajillo chili, stemmed and seeded, then cut into strips
4-5 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs fresh thyme leaves (lemon thyme is wonderful)
Zest from 2 clementines or 1 small orange
2 cups of extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
Place the cheese cubes in a container with a tight fitting lid. In a medium bowl, combine the oil with the cumin seed, chili strips, garlic, thyme and citrus zest. Pour the oil over the cheese making sure all the cheese is covered. Seal the container and refrigerate at least overnight. That’s it.
Allow the dish to warm to room temperature for a few hours before serving. Place cheese and oil in a shallow bowl with toothpicks nearby. Be ready for smiles. Enjoy!