If you’ve got a gallon of blue cheese dressing on your shelf, you’ve got a versatile kitchen powerhouse that can stand up to bold flavors or play very nicely with other ingredients. It’s a classic American flavor that customers understand and appreciate. All that’s needed is a bit of creativity on your part, and blue cheese can become a big player on your menu.
Why so blue?
The enduring popularity of the dressing begins, of course, with blue cheese. Legend has it that blue cheese was discovered when a French lad abandoned his lunch of bread and cheese in a cave to meet up with a young maiden. When he remembered his discarded meal and returned to the cave after many weeks, mold (Penicillium Roquefort, to be exact) had transformed the cheese into the rich and robust cheese plate favorite.
So how can this ancient food make an impact on a modern menu? One popular use is as a sandwich ingredient. “Handhelds are very big now, and we’re seeing blue cheese dressing used as a spread with burgers, hot sandwiches and cold sandwiches,” says Lizzy Freier, managing editor at Technomic, a research and consulting firm servicing the food and foodservice industry. Freier reports the top entrées and appetizers featuring blue cheese dressing are sandwiches, followed by main dish salads, and as a side accompaniment to chicken wings.
How to go blue
As you’re looking for new ideas to incorporate blue cheese on the menu, Freier notes that flavor balance is key: “It’s a very pungent flavor, so one way it balances well is with cool, crisp and fresh textures and temperatures, which is why it’s always such a natural with salads.” The versatile dressing plays a different role when paired with hot temperatures and spicy flavors, she says: “Because of the mayonnaise or sour cream that serve as a base, the dressing can provide a much-needed ‘cooldown’ factor for a peppery dish.”
Another idea is to combine things that seem un-combinable, keeping in mind the customers who snapped up the Dorito Loco Taco and the Cronut. Freier feels that mashups will always appeal to those who seek out crazy connections of foods and flavor: “taking the flavor of a chicken wing and pairing it with a burger is not as strange as it seems,” Freier says. “People are looking for creativity, but they don’t want their foods to be unrecognizable. That’s why blue cheese is such a great ingredient, since it’s so well-loved.”