Dear Home Ec 101,
My husband loves it when I make mac & cheese from scratch, but so far I’ve yet to find a recipe that I like. It always just seems bland. The thing is, I don’t think it was the recipes, I think maybe it’s the cheese I’m using. I get a large bag of shredded mild cheddar because I can’t bring myself to buy the sharper stuff in the smaller (and significantly more expensive) bags. Is there a way to add the tang of sharp cheddar without the expense?
I admit it, I buy the huge offbrand blocks of cheese for use in cooking. While I’m sure some generics are better than others, the large no name bags of preshredded cheese are fairly low in quality, especially the cheddar. In my grocery store, ounce for ounce it costs the same as the much higher quality blocks of generic cheese.
Yes, there is a little work involved in shredding the cheese, but try a side-by-side taste comparison and you may find that it is worth breaking out the grater.
Additionally, the pre-shredded cheese is coated with cellulose to prevent clumping. While it’s certainly not anything to worry about, the off brand at my usual grocery store is pretty heavy handed which does nothing to improve the flavor.
When cheese is eaten alone or in small quantities such as blue cheese sprinkled on a salad, I do spend a little more on a quality brand. With some foods there is more satisfaction in a smaller serving of high quality and I have found this to be especially true for some varieties of cheeses.
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