November 4, 2016 |

Totes Ma ‘Goats’

By Denise Greer

Goat Cheese — a favorite among specialty cheeses

goat cheese pizzaGoat cheese has made the transition from upscale to mainstream. In 2014, the UK even experienced a goat cheese shortage. And demand in the U.S. has continued to soar. Today, you’ll find goat cheese across pizzeria menus, from appetizers and pizzas to salads and desserts.

Made from goat’s milk, goat cheese, commonly referred to as Chévre, has a distinctively tart, tangy flavor. Its texture can be soft and creamy or dry and semi firm.

Its popularity in the U.S. can be attributed to many factors. For starters, Americans have developed more adventurous palates. Plus, goat cheese is often a low-fat alternative to cow’s milk cheese. And, finally, it’s simply divine and versatile.

Customers at 575 Pizzeria in Amarillo, Texas, expressed their affinity for goat cheese on the pizzeria’s menu. Local’s Choice is a section of the menu dedicated to pies developed by guests and fine-tuned by 575 chefs. The common element of the four Local’s Choice pies is goat cheese. In fact, two of 575’s top-5 selling pizzas are the Green Striped Piggy and the Charlie Daniel’s. “I ran a product mix for the last year and came to realize that the Green Striped Piggy is our 4th most popular specialty pizza on the menu and the Charlie Daniel’s is our 5th most popular specialty pizza on the menu,” owner Brian Kelleher says.  “Wow!  Way to go Goat Cheese…could also be a testament to menu design as those two pizzas are in the ‘Local Favorites’ section of the menu.”

The Charlie Daniel’s is a white pie and pairs Canadian bacon and pepperoni with goat cheese. Another popular Local’s Choice is The “Rage” with mozzarella, candied almonds, goat cheese, jalapenos and bacon.

Kelleher has noticed that goat cheese is not a topping that rises to the top of the “build-your-own” or added toppings list in his POS system. That is where 575’s designed pizzas come into play. “We created some pizzas to stimulate people’s curiosities and get them to try something that’s new,” Kelleher says.

Goat cheese pairs well with a variety of flavors. Staff at 575 constantly experiment with topping combinations that go well with goat cheese. Kelleher says sausage and bacon instantly come to mind, “something salty to help bridge that creaminess.” The mild flavor of roasted red peppers complements goat cheese. Goat cheese helps temper jalapenos and spicy pepperoni.

Finding the right goat cheese for your dishes requires testing due to the textural differences. Kelleher prefers a softer variety for pizzas. “I would definitely suggest the creamier the better,” he says. “There are goat cheeses that are a dry consistency. They don’t melt as well.”

goat cheese dip recipeKelleher says it’s important to find a quality goat cheese. “I’ve gone through good goat cheese and bad goat cheese,” he says, adding that his customers noticed when he switched brands. Ultimately, he changed back to the brand his customers were accustomed to.

Let’s look at a few application ideas for your menu. Goat cheese appetizers can pique interest and increase check averages. You have everything in your pizzeria to make a Baked Goat Cheese. Another starter that is sure to turn heads is figs stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon and drizzled with sorghum or honey.

Goat cheese is always a go-to for salads, like a spinach salad or a beet and spring mix salad. There are limitless options for sandwich combinations. The Balsamic Grilled Chicken and Goat Cheese Panini is packed with flavors that complement tangy goat cheese.

Chévre makes for a distinctive pizza topping. Include goat cheese into the mix on a four-cheese pizza. Or, try a pizza featuring a pesto base, grilled chicken, roasted garlic, cherry tomatoes and dollops of Chévre. Experiment with your pasta dishes and use goat cheese as a ravioli filling or sauce. Herbs can be infused into the smooth cheese for artisanal flavor.

Tinker with the following goat cheese recipes to create a one-of-a-kind dish at your pizzeria:

Baked Goat Cheese

Balsamic Grilled Chicken and Goat Cheese Panini

Green Striped Piggy
Recipe courtesy of Brian Kelleher, owner of 575 Pizzeria in Amarillo, Texas

Denise Greer is associate editor of Pizza Today.