I've never been a big Muenster lover. This week, however, I had a brick of it to contend with from my local CSA farm share, and so Muenster and I had to reconcile. I had to pretend it wasn't the blandest of American-made cheeses and that I didn't feel disenchanted by its paprika coat -- enticing and yet flavorless. And so I decided I would dress Muenster up with some sexy bacon and the first heirloom tomato of summer.
If Muenster wasn't going to be my BFF, it was going to be my BLT.
Muenster has a reputable bloodline. French Muenster, the original, is beefy and nutty with "huge" flavor, according to cheese guru Steven Jenkins. Even the Germans and the Dutch make versions with some oomph. Americans, however, have taken the stink out of Muenster, and reduced it to a supermarket stepchild, a cheese that is rindless, odorless, and not the least bit beefy. It's the chicken McNugget of cheese.
But it does melt! Oh, yes. Drape a slice over toast and it goes limp, like a Victorian on a fainting couch. Hidden under lettuce and tomato, it finds quiet dignity, adding just the right note of milky ooze to a simple BLT. Just when I thought my favorite sandwich could not be improved, well, Muenster proved me wrong.
The key to a good BLT, of course, is the bacon and the tomato. If you have a great homegrown tomato, you can make a pretty sublime BLT. If you have stellar bacon, you can make ecstasy. I recommend Benton's, which is dry-cured and hickory-smoked. It comes from Tennessee, and it tastes like the Smoky Mountains. Like campfire. The smell is intoxicating.
Boyfriend and I cooked it on the grill in a cast iron skillet so that we wouldn't heat up the kitchen, but honestly, I wouldn't mind if the smell saturated every piece of furniture in the house. To me, it's potpourri.
Now I'm on the hunt for just one thing: a beefy French Muenster to go with it.