Toppings, Gratins

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

When a thin layer of cheese is heated in the oven or under a broiler—on a gratin, a pizza, or bruschetta—the intense heat can quickly dehydrate the casein fabric, toughen it, and cause its fat to separate. To avoid this, watch the dish carefully and remove it as soon as the cheese melts. On the other hand, browned, crisp cheese is quite delicious: the religieuse at the bottom of the fondue pot crowns the meal. If you want a cheese topping to brown, then pick a robust cheese that resists fat loss and stringiness. The grating cheeses are especially versatile; Parmesan can be formed into a thin disk and melted and lightly browned in a frying pan or the oven, then molded into cups or other shapes.