Wise to the Word: Monterey Jack, California Jack, Sonoma Jack or simply Jack

Jim Hillibish

This arrives in a variety of names: Monterey Jack, California Jack, Sonoma Jack or simply Jack. All are a white semi-soft cheese with a mild flavor reminiscent of Muenster.

Jacks offer high moisture, making them excellent melting cheeses for grilled-cheese sandwiches or pizzas. Some are flavored with hot peppers, like pepper jack, or with dill, like dilly jack. Aged Jack, available in gourmet cheese shops, tastes close to cheddar.

Jack Cheese Dip

  • 1 pound Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1⁄4 cup half and half

Cut cheese into small cubes, and stir in tomatoes and chilies. Heat in microwave oven until cheese melts. Stir in half and half, heat another 20 seconds and serve with chips.

Notes: This is similar to a fondue and tastes good with chunks of bread. If you like a saucy dip, mix in two dashes of hot pepper sauce. For a more elegant dip, substitute dry white wine for the half and half. Reheat for 20 seconds if the dip solid cools.