I first tried oscypek, a salty Polish smoked cheese made from sheep’s milk, at an outdoor barbeque. It was cooked on the grill and served with lingonberry jam. It’s a staple at outdoor festivals, so I had to take some home with me two summers ago for a 4th of July party. Our friend, Mike, graciously stepped up to do the grilling since my husband was away. He was more than a little surprised that I had cheese as well as meat and veggies for him to cook. I must say that he did a great job; you would have never known that it was his first time grilling cheese.
|Not Mike and obviously not 4th of July, grilled cheese at the St. Martin’s Parade|
As I did a little research, trying to find the name of this “smoked cheese from the mountains,” as our Polish friends always translate it for us, I found that the oscypek has been at the heart of a controversy with European Union regulations on one side and Polish tradition and the slow food movement on the other. I don’t know if this has been resolved. Perhaps the cheese I’m buying is a sterile, pasteurized, corporate knock-off.
This post was originally just going to be about the cheese, but I also came across the idea for a grilled cheese and jam sandwich on Grilled Cheese Social. Strawberry jelly was the recommendation on the cheese blog, but I decided to slice up a sunflower seed roll and do a taste test with apricot jam, strawberry jam, and oscypek’s usual accompaniment lingonberry or cranberry preserves.
It may just be my sweet tooth, but in this little kitchen, the apricot and strawberry jams were the big winners. The juxtaposition of the salty, smoked cheese with the thick, sweet fruit jam was surprising and fantastic!
PS – here’s a little more info and a better photo of the real thing from Lori, author of the blog Adventures Here and There:
It is always put in a mold and people who see if for the time– including me years ago — think it’s bread. Real Oscepek can be made only with sheep milk and milk from Polish Red Cows. This is part of a deal with the EU — when Poland was entering, Slovakia objected to this to having this traditional name becoming a registered, protected name, so it took a couple years to work out the deal of what names are used in Poland and Slovakia and what they mean. Cheese that doesn’t fit the definition regarding the milk used is sold as “mountain cheese.”