Big John's Cajun
Founded in 2005 by brothers-in-law Tim Welsh and Pat Ford, Beehive Cheese Company is located at the mouth of the Weber Canyon near Uintah in UT - about half an hour north of Salt Lake City. They are one of the few artisanal cheesemakers in Utah. Having previously worked in the worlds of software and real estate, both men harbored a belief in revitalizing the concept of the local creamery. With the help of The Western Dairy Center at Utah State University, they began to turn their vision into reality. Pat and Tim built the family owned and operated creamery from the ground up. Jersey cow’s milk, known for its high butterfat content, is sourced from Wadeland South Dairy, located about 10 miles from the creamery. The milk arrives from Wadeland at about midnight when it’s just a few hours old. Cheesemaking begins almost immemdiately, starting with pasteurization and the addition of starter cultures. After being left to ‘ripen’, microbial rennet is added to coagulate the milk, which is then hand cut. The excess whey is drained off and the remaining curds are “cheddared” to achieve the right moisture and pH level before being put through a mill and finally transferred into molds for pressing. Named after local chef John Dearmin, Big John’s Cajun was developed after the chef showed up one day with a bag of Cajun meat “rub” and suggesting it could be used for the cheese. Unlike a typical Cajun rub, John’s version uses cayenne pepper instead of paprika. At one day old, wheels have a light application of canola oil wiped on them, just to the point where the surface becomes tacky. Then the rub is smeared on with one motion since, according to Pat Ford, “if its worked too much it becomes a mess - rather like pottery”.
Big John’s Cajun is ideal for cooking as the spiciness of the rub balances well with the rich, smooth and melty texture of the cheese. Near the rind, flavors intensify and pack a considerable punch.
This cheese works really well as an ingredient in mac & cheese, chicken focaccia with avocado, shaved on a salad or melted over a burger. Beverage pairings include Champagne, sweet non-fortified white wines, lagers and ales.