What Is Gruyère Cheese?
Gruyère (pronounced “groo-YAIR”) is a flavorful and versatile hard yellow Swiss cheese, but it’s not to be confused with what people think of when they read about the “Swiss” cheese known for its distinct holes.
No, Gruyère is much more than that. With the distinction of being both a table cheese – a cheese that can be sliced – as well as a melting cheese, Gruyère can be used in a number of different situations.
Where Does The Name Come From?
The cheese is named after the town of Gruyère in the canton of Fribourg in Switzerland, an area prominently made up of thick lush forests and large alpine pastures.
The cows found in this area roam freely and live on a diet of grasses from the vast alpine pastures, which gives Gruyère cheese a flavor that cannot be replicated anywhere outside of the region.
The cow’s milk is taken to local cheese dairies each day where the Gruyère cheese is produced and tended to for three months before being transferred to local cellars where they mature for anywhere from five to 18 months.
Because of this process, Gruyère is unsaturated and unpasteurized.
Are There Any Health Benefits?
Gruyère isn’t the worst thing someone could eat as far as in terms of nutritional value, but it’s definitely not the healthiest cheese to sit down and overeat either.
Calories And Fat
An ounce of Gruyère has 117 calories and 9 grams of fat, which is 13 percent of the recommended daily value (on a 2,000 calorie diet). Gruyère also contains 5 grams of saturated fat, or 25 percent of the daily value. This is alarming due to saturated fats tendency to raise levels of unhealthy cholesterol, which can increase a person’s risk for heart disease.
Despite it’s high fat content, Gruyère has 287 milligrams of calcium, or 29 percent of the daily value per ounce.
Like any high-fat foods, Gruyère is safe to consume, but only in moderation. So don’t go around eating an entire 8oz block of Gruyère at a dinner party.
Common Uses For Gruyère
Gruyère works as both a table cheese and a melting cheese, so it can be used in any number of ways. From being sliced and put on a sandwich to being melted down for fondue, Gruyère offers both great taste and versatility thanks to its acidity, moisture, and salt.
As A Table Cheese
Whether it’s used on a sandwich, on a cheese and fruit platter, or on it’s own, Gruyère is a go-to table cheese and will stand the test of time throughout the duration of a dinner party or social event. That is, if it’s not eaten up before the end of the night.
The cheese is hard enough that it can be sliced, cubed, or cut into wedges. Honestly, it depends on how people want to enjoy Gruyère.
As A Melting Cheese
When it’s cooked, however, Gruyère takes on a new life; an exciting and flavorful life that is nothing like the the standard, sliced version of its former self.
Most people will associate Gruyère with fondue, which it does well in, but it’s also great in baked dishes. If a recipe calls for a melting cheese, it wouldn’t hurt to experiment with Gruyère.
Substitute With Other Types Of Cheese
Gruyère can be found in just about every grocery store these days, but those finding themselves in a tight spot, or can’t afford the relatively high price, can use Emmental, Jarlsberg, Beaufort, or numerous other replacements.
Be careful, though, as some cheeses will either not have the right texture or taste of Gruyère. With that in mind, make sure the recipe doesn’t rely on the distinct taste of Gruyère before adding just any substitute.
Gruyère is quite the remarkable cheese, and with that comes some pretty interesting and fun flavors, so it’s no surprise that there is a seemingly endless list of pairing options.
Pairing With Beer
Gruyère goes well with brown and amber ales, which like the cheese, have a nutty flavor. The cheese also pairs well with Czech pilsners that have hints of caramel, which complements the taste of Gruyère.
Pairing With Wine
The standard Gruyère pairs well with champagne, sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot noir, merlot, and chianti, and smoked Gruyère can be paired with a zinfandel or shiraz. Basically, Gruyère and wine were made to go together.
Recipes That Include Gruyère Cheese
Thanks to its versatility and flavor, Gruyere can be used in any number of recipes ranging from dips to grilled cheese sandwiches. Here are just a few of those recipes split up by table Gruyère and melting Gruyère.
Recipes Incorporating Table Gruyère
If someone has a slab of Gruyère lying around and trying to find a great way to slice it up and put it on a sandwich, why not start with this extremely cheesy grilled cheese sandwich that would be a great way to please children and adults alike.
Here’s another take on the classic grilled cheese sandwich that incorporates thinly sliced ham and tomatoes.
And then there’s this roasted mushroom and Gruyère sandwich that looks like something straight out of heaven.
Recipes Incorporating Melting Gruyère
Start things off with this delicious spinach and artichoke dip that relies on the extra kick of salty, nutty flavor from the Gruyère that is added to tie everything together. Perfect for dinner parties or potluck lunches, this exquisite dip will be all the jazz.
This slab galette with Swiss chard and Gruyère is another choice when trying to come up with great solutions for appetizers at a dinner party.
Those looking for a nice side dish can turn to this spruced up take on the classic potatoes au gratin. The creamy potato casserole is topped with a deliciously bubbly layer of fresh Gruyère and then placed into an oven. The end result is divine.
Like bacon and melted cheese? Try out this caramelized onion, Gruyère, and bacon spread that serves as a great dip. Chances are, the skillet will be cleaned out before too long.
And finally, there’s the tried and true fondue. It’s hard to mess this one up, so give it a shot. Everyone, and we mean everyone, loves fondue.