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The Blue Cheese Dip Spectrum

February 15, 2019

Remember, I did not grow up around these parts, and that means I don’t have a lifetime of experience with buffalo wings and their classic accompaniments.

It’s an interesting exercise to think back to when I had my first encounter with buffalo wings. Memory is a funny thing, but my best guess is that it was when I lived in Miami, most likely when I was in high school. It was certainly during my late teens that I fell in love with the crispy, fiery, and juicy combination of flavors and textures that I still enjoy today.

However, the wings I fell in love with were not buffalo wings at all, because they were most definitely breaded. And while I may still have a soft spot in my heart for crisply fried breaded wings tossed with hot sauce, I have a much deeper love for the unbreaded wings more widely available throughout the Capital Region.

One of the issues that came up on the most recent Tour de Wings was the wide range of different opinions on the blue cheese dip that is served with the wings. Today, I was hoping to get a few people to weigh in on the matter, just so I can gain a bit more perspective on the form.

Here’s the spectrum of blue cheese dip as I see it.

On the far left you have shelf-stable, bottled blue cheese salad dressing. It’s sweet. It’s gloppy. There aren’t many chunks, and it’s not that assertive. It’s kind of like mayonnaise, thinned down with vinegar and water, and blended with blue cheese.

On the far right, you have something that has big chunks of blue cheese, suspended in sour cream, with only as much vinegar and buttermilk as needed to brighten all that fat and create the consistency of a dip. But the experience is dairy on dairy. Without the oily sheen of commercial mayonnaise to mute the flavor or dull the texture.

It’s the later that I make at home for the Super Bowl, although I shudder to think how many bottles of shelf stable blue cheese dressing are sold every year, and how many are consumed during the Super Bowl alone.

Of course there are all kinds of shades of blue along the way, because chunkier refrigerated commercial dressings are a step up from what one might find along the aisles. Then there are the home made blue cheese dips with blue cheese crumbles and mayonnaise, enriched with maybe some sour cream and buttermilk.

The spectrum from left to right would seem to be all about increasing chunks of more assertive cheese, decreasing levels of mayonnaise, and increasing levels of sour cream and the use of buttermilk.

What was interesting was that there seemed to be disagreement from the eaters on the tour as to which dips had higher proportions of mayonnaise. So now I question whether this is a matter people as a whole can even discern just based on sensory perceptions. I wonder how I would do if tasting blue cheese dips blindly. Would I be able to line them up from the least mayonnaise content to the most?

How about you?

Because bottled blue cheese dressings are crazy popular. It’s what most people eat and enjoy. There is no shame in that. This is comfort food, after all, and we each draw comfort from different sources.

For the record, I have nothing against mayonnaise either. I love the stuff. But I just happen to love the blue cheese dip I make without it more than versions that contain that deliciously silky egg and oil emulsion.

So, where do you stand on the spectrum? And what do you think is the more traditional accompaniment?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2019 12:13 pm

    I think we’ve had this conversation before, though it may have been about Halal Guys White Sauce. Come over to my place and do a search if you want to read a whole lot on that subject.

    You are in Camp Sour Cream but I expect rather few will join you. Mayonnaise, or the acid/egg/oil trinity that makes up mayonnaise, will be the overwhelming favorite of readers not as a sauce per se, but as the lubricating base for more distinctive ingredients. For a good blue cheese dressing to dip your wings and veg, you need a whole bunch of chunks of blue cheese and some additional acid.

    You do not mention ranch dressing which is an abomination served at many wings establishments. Good for you. On the other hand, if you like lots of MSG that could be the way to go.

    Finally, I realize your closing question “which is the more traditional accompaniment” is simply waving a red flag in front of the bull. I decline to charge, sir.

  2. Brian permalink
    February 15, 2019 12:20 pm

    Spent 3 years in Buffalo in college, and pretty much existed on wings. The universal cheap go-to there was always Ken’s Bleu Cheese dressing (many corner wing joints had big tubs of this in the back next to the Frank’s hot sauce), although if we were feeling flush with cash we would splurge on Marie’s.

    My go-to at home is definitely similar to the non-mayo example, with the addition of some garlic powder; also, I wonder if taking about half the bleu cheese and stick-blending it into the sour cream, vinegar, and buttermilk, maybe with just a bit of mayo, and then adding more chunks to the resulting emulsion may be the sweet spot.

    And if you can find it, St. Pete’s Select out of Minnesota is a perfect Bleu cheese to use; not cheap but so brilliant.

  3. WCF permalink
    February 15, 2019 12:39 pm

    I love both mayo and blue cheese (the funkier the better). Over the last two years i have experimented with making my own blue cheese dressing using different recipes.

    The first contained only mayo (with other spices) which I thought was going to be great, but wasn’t. The mayo was too rich and overpowered the funky blue cheese.

    After much trial and error found the perfect recipe. 2/3 sour cream, 1/3 mayo, bunch of funky blue cheese, splash of white vinegar, some minced white onion, little fresh garlic. The best with chicken wings, salads, veggies….my mouth is watering now just thinking about it…

    Well at least I know what’s for dinner tonight.

  4. HokieMom permalink
    February 15, 2019 2:03 pm

    if I make my own… mostly sour cream, just a bit of mayo to smooth it out, and some worcester sauce added in,,,and yes, chunks of bc

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  1. What’s Up in the Neighborhood, February 16 2019 – Chuck The Writer

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