When cheese and meat pairing is done right, it can bring out the beautiful flavour profiles of both the meat and the cheese you’ve chosen, and create a new taste sensation. In this post we’ll talk about how to pair different meats and cheeses, and how to look out for the perfect combinations yourself.
Tip one: Focus on balance
Flavour profiling is all about balance, and meat and cheese balance each other out wonderfully. With some pairings, it’s the saltiness and acidity of the meat that works perfectly against the creaminess and subtlety of the cheese (take soft cheese like a mild brie for example). With other combinations, the sweet flavours in the meat (many cured meats for example) work against the savoury or strong flavours in the cheese, such as a mature blue cheese.
Look for these yin and yang pairings when choosing your cheese and meat as it’s usually a sure sign of a successful and delicious combination.
Tip two: Look for complementing textures
Texture is a big part of eating and enjoying food, so the perfect cheese and meat pairing will have taken texture into consideration. For example, think about pate with its smooth and soft texture. You’ll want to pair this with a relatively hard cheese(maybe even with salt crystals present), to complement the smooth texture. You wouldn’t necessarily pair pate with a soft spreadable goat’s cheese, as it could get a little messy and it wouldn’t feel natural to eat them together.
Tip three: Look at the regions the food came from
Both cheese and meat come from various regions, with some of the most notable areas in Italy, France or other parts of Europe. In a similar ilk, there’s an unwritten rule when pairing wine with food, that whatever grows together, tastes good together and the same principle can be applied to meat and cheese pairing.
If you’re ever in doubt whether two elements will work together, it’s worth looking at the region they came from. Take for example Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma - these are two iconic meats and cheeses, and both come from the same region (often the same towns or villages). These two foods have a history together, and of course, they taste great together.
Tip four: Consider acidity too
It’s easy to focus on balance and texture - but thinking about the acidity of the meats or cheese is important too. Acidity is a crucial flavour in many cheeses, and meats too - and it can sometimes throw off a pairing you may have thought a perfect match. If acidity is present in one of your pair, you’ll want to keep the other element creamy, soft and sweet to counteract it.
Of course, the very ‘best’ cheese and meat pairings are the ones you like the most so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find a winning combination. Often, it’s the exploration and trying new things that’s the fun part!