Mac n' Cheese

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What kind of cheeses do you put in your mac n' cheese?  I usually collect scraps of whatever I have in the fridge.  Last week I put monterrey jack along with white cheddar, a little smoked gouda, and a little gruyere.  It was good but... I never realized that monterrey jack tastes like artificial cheese, much like processed american. 
 
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I like mixed cheeses, but not to the extent that some take it. When you start looking at five, and six, and seven cheeses they tend to compete, IMO.

My favorite to use gruyere and cheddar as my base cheeses, then add just a touch of gorgonzola or other blue.
 
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I like to use mozza as a base, for the gooeyness, and either a smoked cheddar or oka for the bigger flavour.
 
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Can't easily get cheddar or any cheese like an American type cheese to do macaroni and cheese here.  I use emmenthal (cheap and easy to find) and parmigiano, one for the melting quality, and the other for the sharpness and taste. It's the closest I've been able to get and tastes good.
 
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I like eating gruyere but I find it so stinky uncooked.  It does make the best mac and cheese.

So nobody uses monterrey jack then.  I'm not surprised, it had a similar taste and texture to american cheese, much like plastic.
 
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I'm not surprised, it had a similar taste and texture to american cheese, much like plastic.

Just proving, once again, Koukouvagia, how individual taste receptors come into play. I find Monterey Jack to be the next best thing to tasteless, and never understood the fascination people seem to have with it. I mean, to me it defines bland. At best it's a little milky tasting, but that's it. About the only thing it brings to the table, IMO, is it's ability to melt readily and smoothly.

On the other hand, I have a friend in Virginia who makes a jack from goat's milk. And that one has great flavor. But even the texture of his version is different.

American cheese, despite its flaws, actually has a distinctive, more cheese-like flavor to me. Almost cheddar-like. Its plastic-like consistency is actually a boon to cooked dishes, because it melts right in---possibly explaining it's popularity for cheeseburgers.

Interestingly, the World Cheese Book waxes rhapsodic about Monterey Jack, saying, among other things:...."has an earthy, mushroomy aroma, and a sweet creamy taste that hints of hazelnuts, with a citrus tang." Yeah, right! If I ever found a cheese like that it would be a permanent part of my pantry.

Frankly, if I was producing a cheese with those characteristics I'd see no reason to mix in things like spices and jalapeno peppers to kick up the flavor. That fact that so much of the Jack is, indeed, flavored that way, indicates that the producers maybe feel the way I do.
 
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In my opinion there are good Jacks and bad.
Sonoma Jack Cheese Co. makes a good one.
Flavored Jack's are usually made from inferior Jack's to begin with, you can't base quality of all Jack's on that practice.
One known exception would be Sonoma Jack's "Habanero Jack".
Since they are committed to a quality product, they use a good cheese to start with.
Also, while a good Monterey Jack does have a nice flavor profile, it is mellow enough to lend itself to flavoring, and there is certainly a call for flavored cheese.
They make the flavored cheese to meet a demand, not because the cheese is so bad it needs a flavor.
But, as the flavors usually mask the nuances of a Jack, many companies do indeed use a lower quality cheese as they feel the average consumer wouldn't appreciate the use of a quality cheese.
 
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No real argument, Jim. There are good and bad versions of everything.

But have you ever had one with the "earthy, mushroomy aroma, and a sweet creamy taste that hints of hazelnuts, with a citrus tang" flavor profile described by the World Cheese Book? I haven't. And I've tasted all sorts of jacks, from small indepentent makers to the crap produced for the mass market.

Of all those I've tried, Jack Woodford's goat milk jack is the only one I'd put on a cheese board. But, again, personal taste comes into play, and others may (probably do) feel differently.

I'm also told that aged jacks have a totally different texture and flavor profile. But I've never gotten to try them, so hold no opinion.
 

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