Don't Hesitate To Grill A Wheel Of Cheese This Summer

The concept of grilled cheese often conjures up images of gooey sliced cheddar or melty mozzarella peeking out between two slices of buttery, toasty bread. However, there's room to expand the definition of grilled cheese by doing precisely what the dish's namesake implies — grill the cheese. A deliciously clever way to enjoy dairy, it's time to fire up the grill!

You may already be familiar with grilled halloumi, but there's no reason why you can't experiment with other varieties of cheese this summer. Select wheels of fresh or soft-ripened cheese can fare exceptionally well when grilled, enhancing its creaminess and imparting a slightly smoky flavor. When determining which will fare best, pay close attention to the rind. Any gooey cheese with a relatively sturdy rind that's bloomy and washed  is ideal.

Double or triple-cream cheeses like a buttery Brie or an earthy Camembert are good starting points. Alternatively, you can also try an aged Gruyère or a brandy-washed Epoisses de Bourgogne. You can even test out wheels of rind cheese that are made with goat's milk, if you want a more delicately sweet flavor. As for how best to grill the wheels, don't overthink the process too much.

Grilling a wheel of cheese is as easy as it sounds

When prepping your cheese wheel, the process is anything but complicated. Lightly brush some olive oil over the entirety of the wheel before placing it on the grill, as this will keep it from sticking to the grates as it warms. Alternatively, heating the cheese in a cast iron skillet over the grill can also give dairy a smoky edge without the grill marks, eliminating any risk of oozing. Just note that whichever technique you use, cheese should be warmed over indirect heat, not a fiery blaze. 

Using a heat-proof spatula to carefully flip the wheel, cook for about two minutes on each side. The cheese will become soft, indicating that it's ready to be removed from the grill. Best enjoyed right away, serve the grilled cheese with a selection of toasted baguette slices and an assortment of sauces for the ultimate appetizer. 

Already full of funk and flavor, less is usually more when grilling wheels of cheese with salty rinds. But if you just can't resist the urge to amp up complexity, add a tin foil packet of smoky hickory or floral cherry wood chips over coals to increase aromas and flavors.