Grande Cheese is a well-regarded cheese supplier used by many pizzerias throughout the U.S. They offer an excellent pre-shredded mix they call East Coast Blend. It’s simply a 1:1 blend of low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella and low-moisture part-skim mozzarella. There you go. You can stop reading. That’s the recipe. But…
Why even use a blend of whole-milk and part-skim mozzarellas?
Great question. When I first started using East Coast blend, I’ll admit it was “because that’s what many NY-style pizzerias do.” But why? Here’s an excellent thread on the PMQ Think Tank forums that offers some insights.
Historically, a lot of it had to do with price. Part-skim was cheaper (due to U.S. government subsidies), so blending it with the richer, more-flavorful whole-milk mozzarella stretched supplies. But that’s no longer the case. Today, pizzerias blend the two (or not!) based on their specific goals and techniques—including melt, browning, stretch, texture, flavor, pizza coverage, “holding ability,” and more.
The bulk of the info on that PMQ thread pulls from this write-up on pizza cheese on John Correll’s Encylopizza.
What’s ‘low-moisture mozzarella’?
Pizza Nerd word alert! Low-moisture mozzarella is the stuff you get in the regular, non-fancy cheese case at the grocery story, in other words the stuff that is not the white, moisture-laden fresh mozzarella. Low-moisture mozzarella (LMM) is what most New York slice pizzerias use and what you probably grew up thinking of as “mozzarella” cheese if you didn’t grow up as an Italian(-American) where great mootz is your birthright.
Shred it yourself
Try to avoid pre-shredded mozzarella from the grocery store. It has a small amount of cellulose added to the bag to prevent clumping. Some folks seem to think it also prevents even melting, though I’d probably need a side-by-side melt test to say conclusively that it does.
It’s often also way cheaper to buy your cheese in bulk (at a restaurant supplier that sells to the public, or at Costco, where I’ve always had good luck with their Frigo-brand blocks, which are made by Saputo).
I like to use this potato grater to make nice, ropy shreds that melt slower and thus stay oozier. (Hat tip to Norma Knepp for recommending it!) But a regular box grater (big hole side!) will do just fine.
Interestingly, here is some BTS info on Pizzamaking regarding Grande cheese packaging from someone who claims to have worked there.
‘New York Blend’ Mozzarella
- 1 pound unshredded whole milk mozzarella (Galbani is excellent; use the "firmer texture" variety)
- 1 pound unshredded part skim mozzarella (Galbani if available, "firmer texture")
- On the large holes of a box grater, or, ideally, the potato grater referenced above, shred cheeses into a large mixing bowl.
- Thoroughly blend cheeses and store in a large zip-top bag or quart containers.