The Most Important Factor For Pairing Cheese With Roasted Meats

Pairing foods together can feel like guesswork a lot of the time, but it doesn't have to. Whether you're grilling a panini or making tacos, a little know-how in the cheese department can turn your solid weeknight dinner into a crave-worthy culinary masterpiece. To help us get there, we reached out to Laura Downey, cheesemonger and owner of the popular Fairfield & Greenwich Cheese Company in Connecticut. For those of you not in the Northeast, Fairfield Cheese Company was dubbed one of the 10 most iconic cheese shops in America by Wine Enthusiast Magazine last year.

"I like to think about the flavor of the meat and look for a cheese that will stand up to it," Downey told us. "Roast chicken, for example, is milder than beef ... it would work well with a milder cheese like Fontina Val d'Aosta from Italy. A big, flavorful burger needs a bold, rich cheddar. You always want the two ingredients to be matched in strength of flavor."

Make sense? It really is that simple. It's easy to wrap food wisdom in an aura of mystery that only professional chefs can understand, but anyone can do it. We eat food more than we do hardly anything else, so if you're looking to put your 10,000 hours in, you're well on your way. Little tricks like this help illuminate the concept of pairing foods together by simplifying the problem.

Putting it into practice

We won't send you out into the great cheesy wilderness just yet. If you're still a little unsure about pairing cheese with roasted meat, try to identify what it is that's intimidating to you. If you're worried you don't know enough about the various cheeses to tell how strong they are, you now have an excuse to put together a tasting of unique cheeses. Grab a friend or fly solo as you make your way to the specialty cheese section of your grocery store. Most markets will have a brief description of the flavor profile on a little placard on the display. Grab a few that stand out to you and compare them side by side when you get home. They may even let you sample them there at the store.

If you're not sure which meats are bold and which are mild, just think about what they taste like and what dishes you often find them in. Red meats tend to be bolder than white meats, so pork deserves a more robust cheese relative to turkey. Trust your gut. If you think something is mild, that means it probably is. There's no trickery happening here.