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Encore: One-Hour Faux Cheddar


Some of you might be feeling a little, shall we say, over-served after last night, maybe a little draggy, not lot of pep in your step. It's OK, your superpowers will return. In the meantime, here's a Found Recipe classic that's all about one woman's super skills.


CLAUDIA LUCERO: My name is Claudia Lucero, and I can make cheese in one hour.


CORNISH: That's right. Claudia Lucero of Portland, Ore., has the power of one-hour cheese.

LUCERO: Mozzarella, ricotta, paneer, goat cheese, queso blanco.

CORNISH: OK. All right - full disclosure - these are actually simple cheeses. Lucero, the woman behind says to make them, you don't need superpowers. You only need practice, and they're relatively easy to make in an hour or less. But cheddar...

LUCERO: Cheddar you age anywhere from two months to 10 years to make it really sharp. Crazy - I don't have that kind of time. I've got one hour (laughter).

CORNISH: Nonetheless, Claudia Lucero has created a 60-minute pseudocheddar. She calls it the smoky cheater. Here's how she did it.

LUCERO: What I want is a firm wheel that you can slice and have as a snack. It has that golden cheddar hue. And I wanted a really nice savory flavor with a little bit of tart aftertaste. I separate the curds from the whey after having added turmeric for color and smoked paprika. And then I kind of want to do a little bit of a cheddaring process. And what that normally is, is you press the curds together, stack them on top of each other, leave them for a while, come back do another folding and stacking.


LUCERO: Well, if we're doing cheddar in one hour, we've got to snap this up. And so I do that for about a minute and move along (laughter). And so, you know, I know at this point I'm very much drunk on my own power. I press it into my wheel mold, and it's looking amazing. I let it cool for a bit, pop it out and it's gorgeous. And I really think I did it. I'm a total genius. But then I go to slice it, and it feels a little squeaky. There's a little resistance, but that's OK. I keep going, and I try to melt it. And it's not melting; it's just kind of keeping its shape, but it's getting beautifully crusty and golden on the outside. And it turns into almost like its own grilled cheese sandwich. I taste it and it's delicious.


LUCERO: So it was a keeper, and I decided to call it smoky cheater because it's nice and savory and smoky with that smoked salt and paprika, but it's definitely not cheddar.


CORNISH: Claudia Lucero - she's the author of "One-Hour Cheese," and if you've ever dreamed of being a cheese maker, here is your chance. Lucero's recipe for the smoky cheater is on our Found Recipes page at Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.