Tag: sheep

Sheep cheeses: production and varieties – Italian Cuisine


Same recipe (milk, rennet and a lot of patience), many variations. From Sardinia to Tuscany, from Abruzzo to Sicily, that of pecorino cheese is an ancient dairy culture, which embraces the beautiful country and develops into a thousand typical products


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In the beginning it was sheep's cheese
From the most ancient representations, from the great Persepolis Royal Scale to the biblical pages, everything seems to indicate that the first cheese produced could be sheep. Even the declarations of Pliny the Elder on the caseum coebanum legitimately suggest that the Piedmontese Murazzano PDO (today produced with mixed sheep and cow's milk) is to be remembered among the oldest cheeses in Italy. Country that owes much of its gastronomic history to pecorino cheese and which now counts at least forty recognized types.

The island's pastoral tradition
You say pecorino and think of the two major islands. In fact, it is up to them the leadership in the production of sheep cheeses. First of all Sardinia. The Pecorino Romano DOP (Roman because it was wanted by continental traders and industrialists who between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries studied this cheese of great appeal even among the Italian community of America. Even if the Lazio production is infinitesimal compared to the Sardinian one) it is in fact sheep cheese more produced and more exported. Its versatility in the kitchen, the predisposition to be used both as a table cheese (aromatic and slightly spicy) and grated (spicy and intense) places the quantity produced in the pantheon of Italian cheeses, just behind the better known vaccines and buffaloes. Almost unique for the light smoke that distinguishes it is the Fiore Sardo Dop, which has its chosen homeland in the central part of the island. The brown crust and the characteristic shape of the mule-backed side make it recognizable at first sight. And then there is Sicily, where another excellence is preserved, the Piacentinu ennese Dop, a pecorino produced exclusively in the central area of ​​the island, characterized by the addition of saffron stigmas to the curd, which give the cheese its unmistakable aroma. The only stretched curd sheep's milk cheese is Vastedda del Belice Dop, which thanks to the particular processing has a sweet and pleasant aroma on the palate, with slightly acidic traces.

From the Apennines to the Tuscan Maremma
For centuries, at the stroke of autumn, shepherds came down from the Apennines towards the Tuscan Maremma and the coast, in search of winter meadows suitable for extensive exploitation. Even today, the production of sheep's milk cheeses (pure or mixed) has a homeland of choice in Tuscany, with 471 thousand sheep, mainly bred extensively. In Siena, in the late Middle Ages, the Customs of the Paschi (abolished at the end of the 1700s), which ensured the city substantial tax revenues. The particular rotary system, which destined the land for the cultivation of cereals for a year and for two or three for uncultivated, has guaranteed the survival of transhumance until recent times, leading to the birth of Pecorino Toscano Dop. Nowadays it is not easy to attend the rite of transhumance, and cheese has evolved thanks to the presence of cooperatives that collect milk from farms with permanent flocks.

Able to satisfy modern tastes with soft and semi-hard versions, it is recognized for its fragrant and sweet flavor
The one produced in the territory of Crete Senesi, appreciated for the softness and delicacy of the aromas. The tradition, which in the area has been handed down by families of Sardinian origin, has it that vegetable rennet, usually of thistle, is used for the preparation of the cheeses. The result is a pleasantly bitter aftertaste, which has contributed to its success.

Dairy art of Central Italy
The medieval use of burying caciotte in holes dug into the tuff still lives on the hills today between Romagna and Marche in the production of the pecorino di fossa di Sogliano Dop, a semi-hard and crumbly cheese with hints of undergrowth and truffles. Along theUmbrian-Marches Apennines, from Valnerina to Norcia, you arrive in Amatrice and then on the Monti della Meta, in the Aquila area: here you can find pecorino with an intense flavor and crumbly paste in the seasoned version. The most recent frontiers of pecorino, around Norcia and Cascia, are made up of the version with black truffle or aged in walnut leaves. The strong taste also characterizes the pecorino from Amatrice, which according to tradition, is produced in the period from April to July with unpasteurized milk. The products of the Abruzzo area are distinguished by the transhumance of the flocks, which for centuries moved up to the Capitanata, in Puglia. THE pecorino from Abruzzo they have the forged external appearance of the basket, where the freshly produced cheese is placed. In Campania there is an equally characteristic cheese, the Pecorino Carmasciano. It is mainly elaborated in Rocca San Felice and Guardia Lombardi, in Irpinia. Here the pasture of the flocks is conditioned by the sulfur exhalations of the mephites which give an aroma of incense to the final product.

The "caci" of the South
A historian capital of sheep's cheese is the Lucana Moliterno, in Basilicata. The characteristic of the Pecorino Canestrato di Moliterno PGI lies in the maturation, which takes place for at least two months in humid fondaci and at an almost constant temperature, elements that affect the structure of the pasta, which is never dry, and the aroma, sweet and delicate in the early stages of maturation, pungent with the continuation of the same . The area of ​​the Monte Poro, in the Vibonese area, in Calabria, is one of the most devoted to the production of sheep's cheese. The milk of the flocks, fed extensively on pastures rich in fragrant essences, transmits strong sweet-bitter notes to the forms. Delicate and with an aftertaste reminiscent of hazelnut if young, spicy with umami veins if seasoned, these are the characteristics of Pecorino Crotonese Dop: it can be recognized by the imprints of the characteristic basket in which it rests for the first days of production, engraved on the flat faces of the cheese.

How pecorino is born
. Sheep is rich in vitamin A, with a higher percentage of protein and fat than cow. It can be processed raw or after being treated with heat at low temperatures (thermization) or more strongly (pasteurization).
Curd. To "solidify" the milk, rennet is added, which can be animal or vegetable. The most used is that of veal, which gives a sweeter taste than sheep rennet, but for some years there has also been return to wild thistle vegetable rennet. The latter, extracted from the pistils of the flower and preserved in aqueous solution, gives the cheese a spicy and slightly bitter taste. We then proceed to the "break up"of the curd, an operation aimed at favor the separation of the whey: in this way grains are obtained as large as a hazelnut for a young pecorino, or as a grain of corn for a seasoned one.
Shapes. The curd is then transferred into the molds and left to drain to lose the excess liquid. The shapes come dry salted or immersed in brine and left to mature, from a minimum of 20 days to over a year.
storage. Pecorino should be kept in a cool place, wrapped in a clean cloth, in the least cold compartment of the fridge.

Variety of sheep cheeses
190938 "src =" https://www.salepepe.it/files/2021/09/pecorino-romano-@salepepe.jpg "width =" 210 "style =" float: left;Pecorino Romano DOP
Produced in Lazio, but especially in Sardinia, it is tasty, aromatic and versatile in the kitchen. The young one, aged for 5 months, has a hard and compact texture that goes well with fruit compotes, cold cuts and fresh legumes, such as broad beans. The seasoned one is grainy and slightly spicy, excellent for grating on pastas such as cacio e pepe, carbonara and gricia.

190939 "src =" https://www.salepepe.it/files/2021/09/pecorino-toscano-@salepepe.jpg "width =" 210 "style =" float: left;Pecorino Toscano PDO (sweet)
Fresh and fragrant, it is left to mature for at least 20 days. It has a soft paste with a delicate flavor, with the typical aroma of milk. Perfect to add grated to delicious fillings and fillings or as a table cheese, to be served with nuts or in oil. It also lends itself to sweet combinations, such as the one with chestnut honey.

190940 "src =" https://www.salepepe.it/files/2021/09/fiore-sardo-@salepepe.jpg "width =" 210 "style =" float: left;Fiore Sardo Dop
It is recognized for its particular convex shape called "mule's back". The paste, straw yellow, which tends to darken in the seasoned forms, has an intense and persistent smell. On the palate it is hard, crumbly, dry and grainy. The flavor is strong, slightly acidic and spicy in the more seasoned forms. Excellent table cheese when eaten young, also excellent in flakes or grated if aged.

Pecorino di Fossa di Sogliano Dop Originally from Sogliano al Rubicone (FC), owes its typical flavor to maturation: the wheels are put from August to November to mature in the "pits", sandstone cavities lined with straw and reeds. With a hard texture and an intense and spicy taste, it can be enjoyed naturally, accompanied by the sweet notes of honey and fruit jams.

Piacentino Ennese Dop
It is produced with the milk of sheep fed with plants of the Mediterranean scrub, such as sulla and vetch, which, together with the saffron stigmas and peppercorns added to the curd, determine its particular aromatic flavor. Fresh or semi-aged, it is an excellent table cheese, but it is also used for fondues and savory creams.

Pecorino Toscano Dop (aged)
It matures for a minimum of 4 months up to a year and gradually the flavor becomes more intense and structured (but never spicy or salty). It is recognized for its thin crust and compact semi-hard texture, with small irregular holes. Grated or reduced into flakes, it is perfect to sprinkle on pasta and soups or to prepare delicious savory zabaglione.

190941 "src =" https://www.salepepe.it/files/2021/09/riccardo-lagorio-@salepepe.jpg "width =" 210 "style =" float: left;Riccardo Lagorio
Photo by Francesca Moscheni
For this piece, published in Sale & Pepe in May 2021, Lagorio, a journalist expert in gastronomy and a regular collaborator of our magazine, received the Lattendibile Journalistic Award, announced by Assolatte for the best article dedicated to cheese.

September 2021

Posted on 17/09/2021


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Recipe Zucchini pesto risotto, hard sheep ricotta and cherry tomatoes – Italian Cuisine

  • 350 g 2 courgettes
  • 300 g Carnaroli rice
  • 120 g hard sheep ricotta
  • 50 g grated pecorino
  • 40 g cold butter
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 8 cherry tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 shallot
  • marjoram
  • dry white wine
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

To prepare the risotto with courgette "pesto", hard sheep's ricotta and cherry tomatoes, chop the shallot, let it dry in a saucepan with a drizzle of oil, then add the rice, toast it for 1 minute, blend it with a splash of white wine and continue cooking for 15-18 minutes with lightly salted boiling water or with vegetable broth.
Private the courgettes of the central part with the seeds and blend 200 g with a little marjoram, pine nuts, 50 g of oil, salt and pepper: you will need to obtain a creamy pesto.
stir finally the risotto with half the zucchini pesto, butter and pecorino cheese; add salt if necessary.
serve with cherry tomatoes cut into wedges, the remaining pesto, ricotta shavings and marjoram leaves to taste.

The sheep (according to chef Diego Rossi) – Italian Cuisine

Everything has been said and written about Diego Rossi, we can certainly all agree that with his restaurant Trippa, in Milan, he made a significant contribution to the return of the fifth quarter (all this advances from the two half-carcases of the animal) on our tables.

A great enthusiast and connoisseur and experimenter, he dedicated a book to the fifth quarter – As long as there is tripe – which can be considered a sort of fifth quarter vademecum with related recipes.

Diego is also a chef who never misses his menu sheep and for this reason we asked him for some advice on how to prepare it, since we are in the period of the year when lamb, kid and sheep are the protagonists of the table. The goal is always to sensitize and stimulate the consumption of less usual meats.

Let's start with a plate hard core: overcooked sheep offal with onion and spices (pepper, pimenton de la vera, garlic, nutmeg) to eat boiled with a side dish of vegetables or potatoes. It's about his interpretation Haggis, a sausage symbol of the Scottish culinary tradition, tasted during his last trip to Scotland and which suggests that offal is also appreciated abroad.

The chef starts from the right assumption that cooking and eating every part of the animal is a form of respect and that it is all about choosing good meat: perfectly slaughtered sheep and in super safe hygiene conditions. So, first of all, it is important to select a good breeder or butcher.

Among the sheep breeds, the medium-sized Brogna prefers the only autochthonous native of the Veronese mountain to survive the extinction or the Bergamo-based lean and delicate meat alternatively the lamb of the Lucanian dolomites bred in the wild.

But where does the inspiration come from? from tradition, from the family recipes and from the exchanges, from the dialogues with the people he meets (Editor's note we also talked about the various versions of lamb lamb and egg from Abruzzo).

So here is a starting point for one sheep crépinette, a kind of patty oval-shaped, in which to insert parature of finely chopped sheep cuts, sheep's liver, salt, cumin, garlic and pecorino. To tie everything together, combine bread, milk and eggs and insert the mixture into a pork net, which gives its name to the preparation, scald it in a pan with oil and salt, then pass it in the oven for a few minutes (about 10).

In this period, to be served with sautéed artichokes or asparagus also boiled with gratin and for the lucky ones, thistles.

Do you know how to cook the head instead?

Remove the brain, boil it for about an hour and a half, then pass it in the oven with oil, garlic, thyme, mint and salt, leaving it to roast for about 12 minutes at 180 °. With the brain kept aside, you can create a sauce by combining garlic, oil, thyme, mint, chilli pepper and sliced ​​lemon, letting it reduce on the heat and adding fresh lemon juice at the end of cooking.

But we do not live only offal, so Diego recommends consuming the leg, lean muscle tissue, preparing a tartare with salt and extra virgin olive oil, a sheep burger or a tasty ragù.

The white meat sauce it can be done with the meat cut with a knife or minced using a classic sauté seasoned with thyme, mint, cumin or even sesame and wet with the broth obtained from the bones of the sheep or other boiled cuts.

at Hamburger, to the minced meat of sheep you can add fatty parts of pork such as bacon and it is flavored with salt and flavorings also adding mustard sauce or beans. Pink cooking in a pan.

The mantra is always the same: nothing is thrown away, you eat everything with respect, awareness and taste, it is always about being guided by the experience of those who have worked before us by generating a culture of inestimable value.

Text by Romina Ciferni

Photo by Marco Varoli.

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