Queso panela also known as panela cheese is tropical cheese with a mild taste, and a creamy texture. Queso panela is incredibly versatile. This cheese can be crumbled up and used as a topping for huevos rancheros, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, nopal as well as salads. When melted it can be just as delicious. It is important to note that melted cheese can end up having a consistency you do not want, or it may even separate or burn if not melted properly. Such outcomes can be avoided by following the right steps when melting your cheese. Below are some of the different ways to melt your panela cheese.
The Microwave Method
The microwave method is one of the most effective ways to melt cheese. Simply follow these steps to melt your cheese using the microwave method.
Bring Your Cheese To Room Temperature
Take out your queso cheese, and put it outside until it has reached room temperature. By doing that you lessen the amount of time you will heat it up before it melts. Also over exposing the cheese to heat will end up making it rubbery or greasy, therefore, the less heat you need to use, the better.
Put Your Cheese In A Microwave Safe Bowl
After taking out your cheese the next step will be to take a microwave safe dish and put your queso panela cheese in there. Pile the cheese into the bowl and leave some room to spare. Note that you should not place queso cheese on a plate because it will run off the plate when it has melted and you might have a mess to clean out of your microwave.
Place Your Cheese In The Microwave
Put the bowl of queso panela inside the microwave and close the microwave door. Set your microwave to the lowest heat setting and leave your cheese to heat up for about 20 to 30 seconds. Heating cheese at high temperatures will suck moisture and fat out of the cheese and the result will be a clumpy melted cheese.
The Stovetop Method
The stovetop is another effective and quick way to melt queso panela. Just follow these steps to melt your cheese.
Bring Your Queso Panela Cheese To Room Temperature
The first step would be to bring your cheese to a room temperature as you would when using the microwave. Leave it outside until it has cooled to room temperature. That way you will not need to heat it up for long on the stovetop before it melts. Too much heat will cause your queso panela cheese to become rubbery the same way over exposing your cheese to heat in the microwave will cause it to become rubbery or greasy.
Heat Your Cheese Over Low Heat
After cooling your cheese to room temperature put it inside a non-stick pot larges enough to accommodate it. Put the pot of cheese over low heat on the stovetop. Ensure that you melt your cheese at the lowest heat possible so that you do not burn it. If you apply too much heat to your pot of cheese, you will lose the moisture and fat in the cheese, which may result in a lumpy or greasy texture.
Stir Your Cheese Frequently
Keep a close eye on your pot and watch your panela cheese closely. Do not forget to stir your cheese frequently and do not leave it unattended on your stove, since it can melt and burn very quickly. Stirring it frequently as it melts will keep it moving around the pot to make sure that the cheese is melted through evenly and it will prevent it from burning. When your cheese is ready you can remove it from the stove and serve as desired
The Steaming Method
Another effective way to heat up or melt your cheese is using the steaming method. You can apply this method to melt your queso panela if you have a double broiler. If you do not have a double broiler, you can make use of a pot/pan and bowls. Just put your panela cheese inside a small oven-safe bowl. If you can, divide the cheese into several small, heat safe bowls. The bowls will act as the top pan for a double broiler if you cannot access one. Also, this steaming method is ideal if you want to melt a small amount of cheese.
Heat Water In The Bottom Pan
The next step would be to fill a saucepan or small pot with a bit of water and bring it to a boil on your stovetop. Once the water heats up reduce the temperature just to keep the water simmering. If you are not using a double boiler put a steamer basket into a saucepan directly over the simmering water. Put your bowls inside the steamer basket with your queso panela inside them. Let the water simmer for a few minutes while your cheese melts. Ensure that you check your cheese frequently so that your cheese will not melt too much. When the cheese is ready simply remove it from the stove and serve as desired.
Tips For Melting Cheese
Be gentle with the heat
Heat is crucial when it comes to melting any type of cheese including queso panela. You should pay attention to your heat when melting your panela cheese. Treating your cheese delicately as you melt it is crucial. As much as you can choose the right type of cheese for your dish, temperature that is too high or too much heating time can make the proteins tighten up, and mess up your meal altogether. So make sure that you melt your cheese over low to medium temperature.
Let Your Cheese Thaw
Another helpful tip is to let your queso panela thaw before putting it in the microwave or on the stovetop to melt. If you let it cool to room temperature after taking it out from the refrigerator it will not take long to melt it or warm up.