This Giant Hunk of Cheese Got Me Through Pandemic Winter

When cooking is too much but eating cheese sounds about right, The Big Cheese is here to the rescue.

The Big Cheese 2.5 pound cheddar block
Photo: The Big Cheese from Wisconsin

In the beginning of the pandemic, I was so industrious. I distributed sourdough starter. I bought flour in bulk. I made meals from scratch, and lost myself in complicated recipes. But as the months wore on, like so many other cooking enthusiasts, I found myself worn down, in a rut, and deeply sick of my own cooking. One of the things that has saved me from the financially (and otherwise) unsustainable practice of ordering takeout every night is this enormous, beautiful hunk of extremely sharp cheddar cheese.

The Big Cheese, as this cheese is accurately marketed, is a Wisconsin white cheddar aged for 13 years, or, per its website, "so mature it's been through graduate school, traveled the world, and seen some sh*t." I prefer my cheddar cheese to be as sharp as possible, —like eye-wateringly sharp if I can get it—and this cheese really delivers. I got a two-and-a-half-pound block, but if you're so inclined and have the fridge space, it also comes in a five-pound and forty-pound format.

The Big Cheese 2.5 pound cheddar block
The Big Cheese from Wisconsin

The two-and-a-half-pound block meant that making myself a dinner cheese plate on the days when cooking felt impossible was still a treat. My plates usually include fig jam, dried fruits, some nice ham, and pickles, but if I don't have those things around, The Big Cheese and crackers is a perfectly filling, delicious snack-meal all on its own. It's also an excellent cheese for making mac and cheese, and for grating into my patented I-haven't-given-up-because-tortillas-exist quesadillas. And it lasted in the fridge for all of January and February, and even a little into March.

Two and a half pounds is a lot of cheese, but it keeps beautifully and you use it up quicker than you would think, or I did. Mine never got any mold on it thanks to keeping it wrapped in cheese paper, but if you did have a few fuzzy spots, you could easily cut them out with a paring knife and still have a vast expanse of good cheese. It runs $49.95, which seems like a lot for cheese until you break it down to the price per ounce, which at $1.24 is pretty good for that level of cheese quality.

When I got to the last little hunk of cheddar, I dispensed with frills and just ate it sliced, standing over the sink, feeling both victorious for getting through the cheese and slightly panicked that there was no more to be had. Maybe it's time to upgrade to the forty-pound block. Who needs anything else in the fridge, anyway?

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