12 March, 2009

Sargento Bistro Blend Cheeses

One of the local grocery stores had a sale on Sargento's Bistro Blends cheeses, so I picked up a handful of different types. I have to say, I was favorably impressed.

Back in the dark ages, cheese was almost never sold pre-shredded. Gaaah...we bought our cheese in blocks that were carved by hand...and we liked it! Now get off my lawn! When shredded cheese was available, it was usually more expensive per pound than solid blocks of cheese.

I'm not sure when that changed, but gradually more shredded cheeses were introduced and as more people went for the convenience, the price started to drop and more varieties were added. Shredded cheese nowadays isn't any more expensive than any other kind per pound. Sargento, with their huge line of shredded cheeses and cheese blends, may very well be the King of Shredded Cheese by now.

There are six Bistro Blends varieties - three Mexican, two Italian, and one American - and all of them are top-notch:

  • Taco Shredded Cheese - Mild but flavorful spice blend and a good combination of cheeses gives a really authentic taste. Great in omelets and melted onto cheeseburgers; also pretty good sprinkled into a non-stick frying pan and browned on both sides as a fried cheese snack. Hey, don't knock it until you're tried it.
  • Chipotle Cheddar - Firm orange cheddar with real chipotle peppers tossed in. Spicier than the other varieties, but mild enough to appeal to a wide market. Excellent in grilled cheese sandwiches - or in their trendier cousin the quesadilla. Also mighty fine in omelets.
  • Nacho & Taco - A blend of mild cheddar and jack cheeses, with some seasonings and a bit of natural lime flavor. I used this stuff to make a big platter of nachos for Wings and Nachos Night and it isn't bad - but don't rely on it to deliver all the savory flavory seasonings you might be used to. It's not very kicky.
  • Mozzarella and Asiago with Roasted Garlic - Really nice: Beautiful meltability and subtle garlic flavor. Sargento's website gives a few recipe ideas, but I just used it as a replacement for straight mozzarella in a couple of my standard recipes and the effect was quite good. Make a great pizza cheese, especially with spinach and bacon toppings; it was also delicious on eggplant parmesan.
  • Mozzarella with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil - One of our favorite shredded cheeses, Sargento really got this one right. The flavors are really well-proportioned and blend together so beautifully. Perfect as a pizza topping, and really outstanding as a quesadilla cheese, too. My daughter likes it sprinkled on salads.
  • Sharp Wisconsin and Vermont Cheddar with Real Bacon - Good quality cheese with good flavor, but let's face it: what really makes this stuff special is the bacon. Sargento is generous with it, too, and you can smell the smoky pork goodness as soon as you open the bag. We used it to make Twice Baked Potatoes which turned out so decent I've put the recipe below.
Any of these Sargento blends are worth a try, especially since they aren't any more expensive than regular ol' cheese.

Twice Baked Potatoes
Serves 6

3 large Russet potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp prepared mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package of Sargento Sharp Wisconsin & Vermont Cheddar with Real Bacon
Milk, as needed
Good Hungarian paprika

Bake the potatoes in a 400 F oven for about an hour, or until done.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise; scoop out the centers into a bowl, leaving a quarter-inch-thick shell behind. Set the shells aside.

Mash the potato with the butter, sour cream, mustard, a touch of salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Work the cheese in with a fork while the potato mixture is still hot. If needed, add some milk, a tiny little bit at a time, to give the potato mixture a smooth and creamy consistency.

Pile the filling back into the potato shells and sprinkle generously with good, flavorful paprika. Pop the spuds back into the oven for 15 - 20 minutes at 375 F until heated through and golden brown on top.


Sargento's Bistro Cheese website. It plays music, which is pretty cheesy too.


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