Updated: Jan 21, 2022
Struggling to shop for that picky colleague, or your friend who's already bought themselves everything? Looking for a stress-free and undeniably delicious snack for your low-key holiday get-together? Or do you simply want to kick grandma's recipes up a notch this year? The solution is simple: cheese. Not just any cheese; nice cheese.
Cheese makes everything - even 2020 - better. That's why Josh Gentine, a third-generation member of the Sargento Foods legacy, founded The Big Cheese Co. Well, that, and he stumbled upon 850,000 pounds of extra-sharp, 12- to 15-year aged cheddar in Wisconsin. According to Gentine, cheese ages like fine wine, getting sharper and more complex with each passing year. He maintains his cheddar is "the sharpest you've ever tasted," adding jokingly, "It's so sharp it has a British accent."
With that in mind, here are three tips for making this holiday the cheesiest one ever.
Tip 1: Unwrap flavor
Cheese is the perfect gift. "Cheese is our common denominator," says Gentine. "There are only two types of people in this world: people who already love cheese and people who need to try The Big Cheese."
With The Big Cheese, blocks are sent directly to your doorstep, so you can cross everyone off your gift list without leaving the sofa. A 2.5-pound block to your foodie aunt, a 5-pounder to the family of four. A 40-pound behemoth sent directly to the door of your friend who's always entertaining (or will be, once that's safe again). It's an unexpected gift that you can be confident will be enjoyed and not regifted or left to gather dust in a hallway closet.
Tip 2: Charcuterie champion
Charcuterie boards have blossomed into their own popular subgenre of #foodporn on Instagram. It's becoming a full-fledged movement, with people creating over-the-top, picture-perfect trays packed with premium deli and dairy. The art of the board is all about balance, in both color and flavor. Put your folded, reddish cuts of cured meat opposite pale cheeses, next to green olives or grape garnish. Mix and match an assortment of hard and soft cheeses with tapenades and spreads. Temper the salty meats with sweeter fruits like pears or apples. With charcuterie, your guest becomes the chef, piling up a plate the way they like it, so you've got to give them options.
Pro Pointer: Serve your extra-sharp, aged cheddar (and other cheeses) at room temperature. When cheese is too cold, its taste is muted. By allowing cheese to come to room temperature, you're allowing its flavors to come out and join the party.
Tip 3: Sharpen a family favorite
This holiday isn't like any other, so why not put a twist on old traditions? Family recipes that stay the same year after year can become tired or stale, so add a little zing with a cheesy kick. The secret is the sharp cheddar. Adding shreds of the zesty treat brings more complexity to dishes. It's the perfect way to amp up mac and cheese, bring extra creaminess to grits or polenta, elevate a grilled cheese sandwich or breathe second life into leftovers like turkey melts.
Try this recipe for a great new take on a family classic:
The Big Cheese Mac & Cheese
From Jessica Slomberg @NYCFoodComa
1½ cups half-and-half
16 ounces cream cheese, cubed
2 cups extra-sharp aged cheddar from The Big Cheese, coarsely grated
1 pound radiatori pasta (or any fun pasta shape!)
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Once water is boiling, add plenty of salt and 1 pound radiatori pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente (5-10 minutes depending on type of pasta).
While pasta is boiling, add ½ cup half and half to a separate large pot or saucepan and reduce about 15 minutes over low heat.
Once cream is reduced, whisk in 16 ounces cream cheese cubes until smooth, then add 2 cups of The Big Cheese. Continue whisking until smooth.
When pasta is cooked, strain and transfer to pot containing creamy cheese mixture. Mix until pasta is evenly coated and serve.
Visit TheBigCheese.com to stock up on the limited-supply of extra-sharp cheddar and ship savory gifts to friends and family.