Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Saenkanter: An Incomparable Gouda

OMG (Oh, My Gouda), Saenkanter is the most intensely flavored cheese I have ever tasted. Made in north Holland, this cheese has a rich, nutty, butterscotch and caramel flavor with subtle hints of sherry. Aged at least 3 years, it is rock hard and has a deep amber color. Crystalline protein structures scattered throughout this cheese give it an interesting crunch.

This Dutch Gouda is made from pasteurized cow's milk, but don't let the fact that it's a Gouda fool you into thinking it's a boring cheese. Gouda, Double Cream Gouda and (heaven forbid) Gouda Lite are among the dullest, least flavorful cheeses in the world. Aged Gouda, however, is another story.

Although I've never seen Saenkanter in Buffalo (I bought mine at the Dean & Deluca store in Napa Valley), Wegman's carries a small but interesting selection of aged Gouda. Look for the names Beemster, Old Gouda and Old Amsterdam. I recently bought a five-year-old Gouda from Wegman's that didn't quite measure up to Saenkanter but was nonetheless pretty interesting. Aged Gouda is like nothing you've probably ever tasted.

A few days ago I cooked the following scrambled egg dish (from Cheese 'n Things) using the aged Gouda I bought at Wegman's. The egg dish was rather strongly flavored but quite interesting:

6 Eggs
1/2 c Saenkanter cheese (or other aged gouda)
1 Shallot
1/8 c. Cream
Coarse sea salt
White pepper
Mince shallot and sauté in butter until translucent and golden brown. Set aside. Cool frying pan and pour 1/8 cup cream in. Then crack 6 eggs into the pan, making sure nothing's cooking yet. Turn heat to medium low, and gently blend eggs and cream until mixture is a consistent pale yellow color. Grate 1/4 cup Saenkanter into egg mixture. Adjust heat to lowest flame and stir continually. Summon your patience and keep stirring until serving–it takes a little while. If you see scrambling action before thickening, your flame is too high. Add two pinches of coarse salt and a few shakes of white pepper. When your eggs are properly cooked (moist but not runny), stir in the shallots. Top with one quick grating of the cheese. Serve with toast that cuts the richness like toasted sourdough or rye.
(Photo credit: D. Ryan Anderson)

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