Introduction to Kefalograviera
Kefalograviera, pronounced keh-fah-lo-grahv-YAIR-ah, is a beloved Greek cheese made from sheep’s and goat’s milk. This slightly salty cheese has a firm texture that grates well and holds up when grilled or fried, making it a versatile addition to many dishes.
What is Kefalograviera Cheese?
Kefalograviera is a hard yellow cheese with a salty, nutty, piquant flavor. It’s firm but smooth to the touch, and it has a rich aroma and smooth mouthfeel. The cheese is marked with little air holes throughout its body, and its rind is light brown and edible. Kefalograviera falls somewhere between salty kefalotyri cheese and mellow graviera cheese, hence its name. This popular Greek cheese is sold in wheels or wedges and can be found at Greek or Mediterranean specialty markets, as well as well-stocked supermarkets.
Kefalograviera vs. Kefalotyri
Kefalograviera is similar to kefalotyri, another hard sheep’s and goat’s milk cheese, but it’s slightly softer and less salty. Kefalograviera is a happy medium between kefalotyri and milder, sweeter graviera, which is made from cow’s, goat’s, and sheep’s milk. All three cheeses are popular table and grating cheeses.
How is Kefalograviera Made?
Kefalograviera has been made since the 1960s in three areas designated as protected designations of origin (PDOs) in western mainland Greece: Western Macedonia, Epirus, and Aitoloakarnania. Despite its relative newness to the Greek table, it’s rapidly become one of the most famous and popular Greek cheeses. Kefalograviera is made from either 100 percent sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk, and the milk is pasteurized. It’s formed in small wheels and aged for three months. Kefalograviera is packaged in rounds, half-rounds, and wedges and vacuum-packed.
Substitutes for Kefalograviera
If you cannot find kefalograviera, you can substitute kefalotyri, graviera, or kasseri cheese for somewhat similar results. Other salty, nutty firm cheeses, such as pecorino Toscano, pecorino Romano, Parmesan, Asiago, and aged Gruyère may also be substituted, but the results will not be exactly the same.
Uses of Kefalograviera
Kefalograviera makes an exceptional side dish when grilled in slices or cubes. It’s prized as a table cheese and as part of a meze (appetizer) platter, and pairs well with Greek spirits, such as ouzo, as well as white wine and red wine. It is the cheese commonly used in saganaki, a traditional Greek dish, where the cheese is coated with seasoned flour and lightly fried. Kefalograviera is also grated and sprinkled over pasta and added to baked dishes and gratins. It is also delicious with lamb.
Storage of Kefalograviera
Kefalograviera should be stored in the refrigerator. Remove about one hour before using so it can come to room temperature. If unopened, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months. Once opened, wrap the cheese in waxed or parchment paperand place it in a zip-close bag or a plastic container. This will allow a limited amount of airflow without permeating the refrigerator with cheese smell. If any mold forms, thoroughly cut around it, taking care not to touch the mold with your knife.
Kefalograviera can also be frozen for up to three months with minimal effect on flavor and texture. To freeze, tightly wrap hand-sized blocks in plastic or coarsely grate and store in zip-close bags, with all of the air compressed, for up to three months. Allow the cheese to defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using it and use within a few days.
Kefalograviera in Recipes
Kefalograviera can be substituted for other firm, hard Greek cheeses, such as kefalotyri, kasseri, or graviera. It can also be used as an alternative to recipes specifying grated pecorino Romano cheese. Some popular dishes featuring Kefalograviera include Pan-Seared Saganaki, Flaming Greek Cheese, and Oven-Roasted Saganaki.
Can You Eat the Rind?
The rind on kefalograviera cheese is edible and can be left on when eaten uncooked and cooked. This adds to the versatility and ease of use of this delightful Greek cheese.
So, there you have it, folks! Kefalograviera is a versatile, flavorful cheese that’s perfect for grating, frying, and adding a touch of Greek flavor to your dishes. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, this cheese is sure to become a staple in your kitchen.