We've partnered with the mad food scientists at ChefSteps to bring their hyper-inventive cooking videos to F&W readers. Here, the team that worked with Nathan Myrhvold to create the magnum opus Modernist Cuisine shares an incredible food experiment.
Many an American childhood involves processed cheese—there's just something about a warm grilled cheese, filled with gooey, melty Kraft American, or a big bowl of creamy Velveeta Shells & Cheese, that appeals to kids' tastebuds. As adults we still crave the comforting texture and unctuousness of processed cheese, but most of us also crave cheese that's a little more nuanced in flavor—the nutty, earthy notes of Gruyère, for instance, or the wake-you-up funk of Roquefort or Stilton.
Enter melting salts. A cornerstone of the commercial cheese world, salts such as sodium citrate, sodium hexametaphosphate, and sodium caseinate allow manufacturers to create sterile products that don't "oil off"—an industry term that refers to the tendency of the fats in melting cheese to separate from the proteins. In the modernist kitchen, chefs have taken advantage of these additives to alter the texture of great cheeses, creating slices that have that great melty, creamy quality of the plastic-wrapped stuff you find on supermarket shelves, while retaining the wonderful complex flavors of the best fromages.
Here, we walk you through the steps for creating such a product using sharp cheddar. After combining the cheese with milk, salts, and clarified butter, you'll heat the mixture and blend it together until it reaches a smooth consistency. You can use the cheese right away, but if you want firm slices you'll need to cast it in a mold and chill it for eight hours. We made a round mold—the perfect shape for topping burgers—but you can opt for any shape you like.
Equipment: Sous vide setup, blender, ring mold (4" diameter, optional)
Get the full recipe at Chefsteps.com