Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ask the Internet: Inexpensive Cheese for Cooking?

Today's question comes from reader Alicia N. It's a super good one, especially for all you frommage lovers out there.

Q: What do you use when you need some cheap cheese for cooking? I made a great baked pasta last week and it called for a cup of shredded Jarlsberg. My husband came home from the store and asked me to please stop using $9 cheese. I don't mind splurging on expensive cheese if we are going to eat it on its own ... but it seems silly if we are just going to melt it with something else or make mac-n-cheese out of it. Extra points if it's something I might be able to find already shredded.

From Dominik
A: Alicia, I do three things:
  • For cooking, I tend to concentrate on recipes with four main cheeses: Cheddar, Parmesan, mozzarella, and feta. They go on sale the most, I can get good-to-great brands, and they're widely applicable to a huge range of recipes.
  • I let the sales be my guide. Rather than planning a dish and then buying the appropriate cheese, I wait until a cheese (any cheese) goes on sale, and plan a dish around that.
  • Though I also use shredded cheese on occasion, I find that grating my own blocks isn't just cheaper, but better for most cooking purposes. It melts easier and tastes better, since you don't get the anti-caking grit endemic to bags of the pre-shredded stuff.
Readers, how 'bout choo? I'm thinking this is right in your (cheese)wheelhouse. Does shopping at bulk stores make a difference? Do you combine a pricey cheese with thriftier ones to beef it up? Do tell.

Want to ask the interweb a question? Post one in the comment section, or write to Cheaphealthygood@gmail.com. Then, tune in next Tuesday for an answer/several answers from the good people of the World Wide Net.

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