For those from the Pacific Northwest, Washington State University’s Cougar Gold Cheddar is a cheese mainstay. For those who don’t know Cougar Gold, it’s aged in a can… yep… a can… and the first question that pops into your mind is “How can it possibly be any good if it’s in a can?” … all I can say is… this is one damn fine cheddar. If you’ve had Beecher’s Handmade Flagship… similar notes: nutty and savory, but less “sweet” than Flagship’s finish. Cougar Gold’s paste is white and crumbly but immediately turns creamy when it sits on your palate.
Cougar Gold is aged more than a year in a can before being released and during its aging, develops calcium lactate crystals that I like to call “little bursts of added flavor”. The can is stamped with the make date and the first name of the Cheesemaker. For this review and recipe, the Cheesemaker was “Beth”… and hats off to Beth… she delivered a terrific batch of Cougar Gold.
Second question after “How good can cheese in a can be” is… “Why, a can…” and here comes that old “Necessity is the Motherhood of Invention”… back during WW2, the US Government (aka those rat ass bastards… with apologies to the other rat ass bastards of the world…) approached Professor N.S. Golding and asked him to develop a cheese that can be easily shipped to our troops overseas… and Cougar Gold in a can was born… obviously, because the quality of the cheese turned out to be excellent, the government wasn’t involved beyond making the initial request… otherwise, the cheese would have turned out to taste like most Michelle Obama-created school lunches… inedible crap… (if you don’t believe the “inedible crap” part about school lunches – check out the student-posted pictures of school lunches on twitter – looks like inedible crap to me)…but I digress with a bitter diatribe about most everything the US government touches and screws up… thanks goodness Cougar Gold dodged that bullet… again I digress… forgive me, but during election years, in particular, I lose my mind when it comes to those rat ass bastards in Washington “running” our government…
Back to Cougar Gold…
Please Note: Cougar Gold continues to age in the can as long as you keep it refrigerated and the longer you keep it unopened and in the fridge, the better it gets. A few years back, I read that cans over twenty years old were located and the cheese was tasty and in excellent condition… how someone could hold on to it that long, is beyond me… we’re lucky if it makes it a couple of weeks before being opened.
Another note: This is one of the best deals for online cheese; Twenty-two bucks for a thirty ounce can and generally $8 for shipping… however, no shipping during the summer months… so if you want to get this cheese, order it now or you’ll be waiting for fall to roll around…
In addition to snacking, Cougar Gold is excellent for cooking and taking your Pimento Cheese to the next level…
On Easter Sunday, I made mac n cheese using Cougar Gold with a little BelGiogioso Fontina added to improve the creaminess of the basic cheese sauce. I also added fresh CSA farm carrots and asparagus spears. Needless to say, it was a hit. You can find my Basic Cheese Sauce Recipe here. This sauce works well if you only fold in your noodles or top it with bread crumbs and bake it for about fifteen minutes.
Being Masters’ Week, it’s only appropriate that I post another Pimento Cheese recipe…
2 Small jars of diced pimento, with brine
1/2 wheel of Cougar Gold, about 15 ounces, shredded
Duke’s Mayo – the amount depends on the desired spreadability you want – Miss Anne wants to be able to spread Pimento Cheese right out of the fridge, so I used more that I would normally if only The Man and I were consuming it. (I would let it sit out a few minutes and warm up to help with spreadability… but Miss Anne is not known for her patience when it comes to eating her beloved Pimento Cheese…)
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Add pimento and Duke’s to a food processor and blend until well-mixed.
Slowly add the cheese and continue to blend.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Some folks get fancy and add bacon or hot peppers, but for purists, stick with the basics…
If it appears a little dry, add more Duke’s.
Spread on bread or crackers of choice and enjoy.
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FTC Disclosure: Some of the products featured in this article was sent to me by the manufacturers, without any obligation on my part, hoping I would review their products. Please see my About Me Page for details.