Roncal refers to a smooth textured Spanish cheese variety which is creamy and hard in nature, where the milk of sheep is used for the production of cheese. The cheese belongs to Valle de Roncal, Spain, where the valley is made up of seven villages, namely lsaba, Uztarroz, Urzainqui, Garde, Roncal, Burgui, and Vidangoz, which are together involved in controlling the production and marketing of sheep’s milk cheese. This Spanish cheese is moist in nature and is enriched with aromas of nuts and olives.
The cheese is of hard skin with a light grey bluish color and velvety texture, where the length of cheese lies between 8cm and 14cm and the weight is 2-3kgs. This Spanish cheese has sharp edges and is cylindrical in shape, where the flavor of the cheese is highly sharp, buttery, and little spicy, due to ageing process of the cheese which takes place for a period of more than four months.
History of Roncal Cheese
The production of Spanish cheese, Roncal, can be traced back to 13th century when native citizens used to collectively work to raise the sheep. The flocks were drove every year to the mountains to allow them to pasture on rich land in spring season and brought back in the fall, to produce rich quality cheese to be sold in the market. The tradition of producing good quality cheese from fresh air of the mountains is still prevalent these days, where the cheese is prepared from raw milk of the sheep.
Production of Roncal Cheese
The Spanish cheese, Roncal, is matured at a very slow process over a period of several months for developing nutty and rustic flavored cheese, with aromas of olives, where un-pasteurized milk of the sheep is used in the production of the cheese. Aragonesa and Lacha breeds of sheep oveja are used for the production of this cheese. The primary seasons for production of this Spanish cheese variety are spring and winter; however, the cheese is also produced all over the year. The production of this Spanish is carried out under different phases where the milk is curdled initially to form cheese, and then cut, drained, molded, salted and finally aged, especially in the period December to July.
Uses of Roncal Cheese
- The cheese is popularly used as a part of cheeseboard.
- It can be served with salads.
- This Spanish cheese can be used as a stuffing, where the taste and flavor of the dish is augmented with the stuffing of cheese. For example, stuffing the cheese in scorched Piquillo peppers is a very good way to enhance the flavor of the dish.
- The Spanish cheese, Roncal, works very well as a dessert or an appetizer with non crianza and crianza red wines. This cheese pairs nicely with Tempranillo and Sauvignon Blanc.