The gorgonzola, one of the blue cheeses best known in Italy, it has been recognized as DOP only in 1996. But how did this type of cheese come about and how can it be used in the kitchen? Let's take a leap into the past and trace its origins.
A centuries-old cheese
The name gorgonzola derives fromhomonymous locality, in the province of Milan, where it has been produced for centuries. In fact, legend has it that this cheese was born from the carelessness of a cheesemaker who, by mixing the evening curd with that of the morning, favored the formation of mold, decreeing the birth of the so-called "stracchino with gorgonzola cheese".
The first certainties about the use and production of gorgonzola, however, date back only to the 19th century, when a harder blue cheese than today's was eaten in the Lombard countryside with slices of grilled polenta.
The gorgonzola of the Betrothed
It may not be just a coincidence if the "stracchino di gorgonzola" appears in the Betrothed, first great nineteenth-century novel. Leafing through the pages of Manzoni's masterpiece (chap. XVI) we read that an old landlady offered Gorgonzola to Renzo on the run from Milan, just when the spinner had identified the fictitious goal behind which to hide the plan to reach Bergamo in the village of Gorgonzola.
From 900 to today
Instead, the custom of spreading gorgonzola on a slice of homemade bread, like the traditional and crunchy Milanese michetta, dates back to the 1900s. Today the production of the cheese takes place mainly in Gorgonzola but, according to the regulations approved in Europe, it can also be produced in Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Biella, Como, Cremona, Cuneo, Lecco, Lodi, Milan, Pavia, Vercelli, Varese, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola.
A little wild card in fast cooking
Gorgonzola is a raw cow's milk cheese with characteristic bluish-green streaks (deriving from the aging of mold Penicilium, placed in the milk during the cheese-making phase), which can be used as jolly of fast cooking. In fact, there are several small recipes that see it as the undisputed protagonist, both in a sweet and spicy version, combined with other ingredients. It is, for example, used to season polenta, risotto or gnocchetti; it is proposed in the form of slices of cake interspersed with chopped mascarpone and walnut kernels or used for other small delicacies. Let's see some examples.
4 tips on how to use gorgonzola
Gorgonzola is a blue cheese that goes well with other ingredients and therefore is very versatile in the kitchen. Here are some examples of use, from appetizers to second courses.
1) Pinzomonio cream
Blend the gorgonzola with mascarpone or a few tablespoons of whipped cream and serve with crudité, bread sticks, apples and pears;
2) Creaming for the risotto
Stir risotto alla parmigiana, in addition to a knob of butter and chopped walnuts, to give an extra touch of flavor to the dish. Finish the dish with a drizzle of honey and caramelized pear slices.
3) Pasta sauce
Melt it on the stove with a little milk and use it as a sauce for pasta. In this case, a handful of raisins and chopped hazelnuts will suffice to dampen the flavor and give a crunchy note.
4) Filling for rolls
Spread it on the slices of meat, add a cured meat to taste (cooked ham, speck) and grilled vegetables (courgettes, aubergines), roll up the rolls and seal them well by fixing them first with a toothpick and then browning them in butter. Alternatively, you can first cook the escalopes and, just before turning off, add the gorgonzola so that it melts and forms a savory sauce.