Slather Your Next Steak With Valdeón Butter For A Tangy Taste

Anthony Bourdain once decried that a life without stinky cheese is not a life worth living, and here at Tasting Table, we tend to agree. We're pairing fragrant fromage with everything from apples to bread to meat. That's why, today, we're coming at you with a tip for elevating your next steak with a taste of the good stuff. Introducing valdeón.

If you haven't tried it before, valdeón is a type of blue cheese hailing from Spain's Castile-León region. It's made from a mixture of cow and goat milk aged for a minimum of two months. Valdeón is characterized by its dense dark blue veining and unique packaging, typically wrapped in a maple or sycamore leaf. But what really makes the cheese stand apart is its unique flavor (a pungent mixture of salt and spice), and its melt-in-your-mouth texture. Legendary NYC cheesemonger Murray's Cheese (which took home the gold for Best Cheese in the U.S. at last year's World Cheese Awards) ranks valdeón as more "adventurous" than "approachable." Other cheesemakers  have noted that it's stronger than a Stilton yet not intense like a Cabrales. Don't let its power intimidate you; not only does its super aromatic, tangy flavor pair well with beef, but its naturally crumbly yet creamy texture makes valdeón easy to transform into a rich finishing butter for your next steak.

A fragrant finisher for fromage fans

To turn your valdeón cheese into a creamy finishing butter, mash it with softened unsalted butter, olive oil, shallots, and scallions. Then, roll the butter into a ball, wrap it in cellophane, and transfer it to the fridge to firm up for at least half an hour. To further showcase valdeón's knockout flavor, you could incorporate complementary savory flavors like smoked paprika, freshly roasted garlic, or cayenne into a steak marinade before cooking.

Steak and blue cheese famously make a heavenly pairing. With valdeón's soft texture and intense flavor, it's easy to add robust complexity to your meaty entree. Use it as a finishing slather, or place a generous pat atop each steak to serve. A proportionately full-bodied wine like Muscat will work with this tangy, umami-forward dish. Complete the meal with a side of roasted asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes.

Tracking down a hunk of valdeón might be tougher than a trip to the grocery store. Cooking with this cheese gives you a great excuse to visit your local cheesemonger. Foodies can order online via specialty purveyors like Murray's and Artisanal Premium Cheese to have valdeón shipped to the house (and make dinner party guests swoon). If you have any extra cheese, it'll make a killer centerpiece on your pre-meal charcuterie board.