Asadero, also called queso Oaxaca or queso Chihuahua, is a Mexican cheese that chefs value because it melts easily. Made from cow's milk (usually unpasteurized), it is a fresh white cheese somewhat similar to mozzarella. California cheese maker Rico Milan likens the taste to a Monterey Jack that hasn't been aged, and regards it as the ideal cheese for empanadas and quesadillas. Asadero production methods in Mexico vary slightly by region, but it's fairly easy to make this simple version at home.
Things You'll Need
1 gallon raw cow's milk
3/4 cup rennet
Heat milk in the top half of a double boiler to 145 degrees F for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to 95 degrees F. This pasteurizes the raw milk.
Stir in the rennet. Cover the container and let it sit undisturbed for 40 to 60 minutes, until curds form.
Cut the curd into walnut-sized pieces (about 1 inch square). Rest the curds by letting them sit undisturbed for at least 10 minutes.
Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the fluid containing the curds inside. Allow the watery part of the mixture, called whey, to drain through. Keep the drained curds.
Immerse the curds in hot water. Knead them and stretch them into long strings. Braid the strings for an attractive presentation.
Apply salt to the outside of the braid. Alternatively, you can submerge the braid in brine.
Natural rennet works best for asadero.
For a more authentic asadero, use kosher salt for the salting or brining process.
Asadero cheese is excellent for melting, so use it for quesadillas (cheese folded in wheat or corn tortillas and heated until melted) or empanadas (pastry wrapped around cheese, meat, and vegetables, then baked or fried).