Say Cheese

How much do we love cheese? Let us count the many ways…one, two, three, ALL. January 20 is National Cheese Lover’s Day. For sandwich lovers, there may be no better day (except National Sandwich Day of course). And for cheese lovers, well, you have a whole day to celebrate. Our suggestion is, of course, to spend this special day with a sandwich…and add the cheese. Let’s get to it: why add cheese to a sandwich?

First, a word (or few) about cheese.

Cheese has been around for over 5,000 years and has been popular ever since. Cheese is made from milk and can be produced in a wide variety of flavor, color, texture, and form. But it’s not quite that simple as it can be made from a variety of milk too: cow, sheep, goat or even buffalo. The type of cheese is a delicate (and delicious) chemical reaction between microbes, sugars, fats, and proteins. The creativity of an artisan cheese maker is almost limitless. Like a good wine, the environment and quality of ingredients play a critical role in the development of a cheese.

Why Add Cheese to A Sandwich?

Cheese can add unique flavor and texture to a sandwich. It can bring creamy, gooey goodness that looks mouthwatering and that holds the sandwich together. Cheese can serve as a counterpoint to spice or take it up a notch. It’s can add protein in a versatile manner. And, cheese just adds a bit of oomph when needed.

Cheese makes a sandwich delicious and allows for great creativity.

Some cheese upgrades

Here in the US, Americans eat over 30 pounds of cheese each year. The most popular? Mozzarella took over the reigns from Cheddar a few years ago. To celebrate all the ways people love cheese, we want to share some of our favorites beyond the “standard” sandwich cheeses, American, Provolone, Swiss, and Cheddar.

Havarti: Buttery, creamy, smooth and supple. Often paired with some type of flavoring, perhaps dill and caraway most often. Watch out to not cut too thick. Makes for a mean grilled cheese when matched with Cheddar or American, too.

Gouda: Sharp, yet sweet (depending on the age of course). A semi-hard cheese that can be deliciously smoked adding multiple dimensions and flavors to a sandwich all in one package. Pairs well in sandwiches from turkey to fruit and beyond.

Blue Cheese: Bold, bold, bold taste with a distinctive (some say offputting) aroma. Blue Cheese certainly delivers a sharp, earthy rush of flavor. If you like Blue Cheese, you’ll be amazed trying it with a Buffalo Fried Chicken sandwich.

Monterrey Jack: Buttery and perhaps tart, it’s typically ivory in color. Available in a wide variety of flavors, Pepper Jack is perhaps the most common and often paired with Colby, too. Perfect sliced or shredded, Mexican Tortas anyone?

Cream Cheese: Smooth, slightly sweet and oh so spreadable. Great on a bagel with lox, or perfect for a wrap sandwich to go with a brown bag lunch. Or, added to cheddar, mayo, spices, and pimentos for a classic Pimento Cheese spread.

Become a Cheese Wiz (sorry, about that one)

As you can see there is no shortage of cheeses – or ideas on how to best use them. Your choice of cheese is up to you and personal preference, but also highly dependent on pairings. We urge you to try experimenting and find some new favorites.

The Grilled Cheese Academy is a great source for learning more about cheese and finding new recipes to try. Our friends at The Food Channel also have a lot of great, cheesy sandwich recipes.

Photos Courtesy of @BillysBurgers and @GrilledCheeseAcademy

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