Tetilla – The word “tetilla” (meaning “small breast”) clearly defines the traditional shape of this cheese, that is, a flattened pear-shaped cone with a small nipple on the top.
This is the most characteristic cheese from Galicia, easily recognized by its shape and smooth, fine, yellow straw-colored rind.
The soft paste, thick and smooth with few air pockets, is very creamy on the palate. The flavor is clean and smooth. This cheese can be eaten at any time during the day. It is also suitable for cooking, especially as stuffing and in recipes calling for coating as it melts easily with heat.
It is the most popular traditional cheese in Galicia, although it is also known and appreciated in the rest of Spain.
Galicia’s rural landscape is dotted with small villages and farms scattered across the province. The undulating topography and template, humid maritime climate has converted northwestern Spain (Finis Terrae) into a perennial and continuous meadow.
A predominantly farming culture, Galicia is the Spanish autonomous region with the highest production of cow’s milk. In each corner of the region, one can find cheese-makers producing Galician Tetilla cheese.
Labeled “Denominación de Origen Protegida” (D.O.P.)
Today Tetilla is produced in all Galicia.
Originally it was produced, by artisanal methods, in the following southern towns of the province of La Coruña and northern towns of the province of Pontevedra: Curtis, Sobrado dos Monxes, Arzúa y Melide.
The production process is similar to the Arzua or the Ulloa Cheeses. However, the shape is similar to the San Simon Cheese, due to the use of the molds, (” cuncas “) originally wooden, with a cone or semi-sphere shape.
raditionally, the milk used in the production of the cheese had to be from the rubia gallega cow breed. This breed produces a small amount of milk, but of superior quality.
Today, the traditional artisan production in small farms coexists with the industrial production. This factory production is possible thanks to the enthusiastic participation of young generations and the use of simple industrial techniques combined with the traditional methods. Industrially produced cheese is made with pasteurized milk. These cheeses have a texture closer to that of pressed paste.
Improved production methods have resulted in the avaliability of the Tetilla cheeses not only in the traditional local markets but in the international markets as well.
Tetilla cheese is also called Queso de Perilla, Queso de Teta, Queso de Teta de Vaca, o Queso Gallego de Teta, all referring to its characteristic shape.
It is an aged cheese, from soft to semi-cured, made with cows´milk. It is made by mixed coagulation, although mostly enzimatic. The paste is compact but soft, and uncooked.
The milk used must be whole, unpasteurized or pasteurized, and usually is the combination of milks obtained in two consecutive milkings. The mixed coagulation is achieved by adding curdle (presoiro) at a temperature of 28 to 32 ºC (82 to 89ºF), resulting in a soft compact curdle after 1 to 2 hours.
This curdle must be softly cut into medium size lumps. The resulting lumpy paste is then compacted by hand, or smoothly pressed. The artisanal salting process is done on the milk or the curdle. Industrially produced cheeses are salted externally, by rubbing with dry salt or by immersing the cheeses in highly salted water.
The cheeses are then left to air in a fresh and slightly humid room for at least one week. Alternatively the cheeses may be scalded in hot salted water to obtain a closed, clean, waxy rind. The cheese inside is closed, compact, of a ivory-white or pale-yellow color. The cut is smooth, creamy, even spreadable. The taste is buttery, but not salty, and melts easily in the mouth.
The Tetilla cheeses have a cone shape, reminiscent of a half pear, or half a sphere topped by a little nipple. The size goes from small to medium, with weights ranging from 1 1/2 to 3 lb. (.75 to 1.5 Kg.)
Tetilla cheese is a favorite among childen, they love it with crackers, fruit or with quince paste.
It melts beautifully for sandwiches or sauces. Try it tucked inside a baked potato or a frankfurter.
It’s perfect to spread over plain bread ond over raisin-nut bread.
The creamy, soft and mild-flavored taste of the cheese combines perfectly with the slight sweetness of the Pale Cream. The wine subtly recovers the delicate flavor of the Tetilla.
Eggplants with Tetilla Cheese
4 eggplants of similar size
250 gr (1/2 lb.) Tetilla cheese
8 Tbsp olive oil
1 kg (2 lb.) tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1 large onion
1 small green pepper
50 gr (1 ounce) Ibérico cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Pinch of Sugar
Finely chop half the onion and sauté in half the oil. Wash the tomatoes, chop and fry on top of the onion until any water has evaporated (about 20 minutes). Sieve and season with salt, pepper and finely chopped tarragon (adding a pinch of sugar, if necessary, to counter the acidity of the tomatoes).
Wash the eggplants and cut into two, lengthwise. Blanch in salted boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain face down on kitchen paper. Remove the pulp with a teaspoon, setting aside the empty shells. In the rest of the oil, fry the finely chopped garlic clove and remaining onion together with the washed and chopped pepper. Add the eggplant pulp, diced Tetilla cheese and two tablespoon of the tomato sauce.
Season with salt, pepper and chopped tarragon. Fill the eggplant shells, sprinkle with grated cheese and brown in the oven. Serve hot with tomato sauce sprinkled with cheese and chopped tarragon.
Young red Cencibel, D.O. La Mancha.