Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Manchego the principal cheese of Spain, takes its name from the dry plateau of La Mancha, south of Madrid, where it is made from whole sheep’s milk, the sheep themselves being of the Manchego breed. The best is said to come from around the city of Ciudad Real.

Manchego cheeses are pressed in moulds of a standard design which were originally of plaited straw, leaving a characteristic pattern on the surface. The pattern is now imitated with metal moulds. The shape is a flat disc (25 cm/10" in diameter and 8–12 cm/about 4" high) and the weight about 3 kg (7 lb). Manchego may be sold fresh (fresco) or slightly aged (curado) or older than three months (viejo); Manchego en aceite will have been immersed in olive oil for a year or so and will have developed a grey to black rind. As the cheese ages the flavour strengthens.