Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pecorino Sardo

Pecorino Sardo was born out of the reworking of two different types of cheese, the caciotta and the semicotto. The two were joined to make a sweet, mature pecorino. Made exclusively with milk from the Sardinian sheep breed, which is known for its high milk production. The sheep are raised on the inland mountains of Sardinia, in an environment rich in herbs and flavors. 

Pecorino Sardo has been produced for centuries and various types have developed, including fresa, spiatatu, rossi fini, bianchi, and affumicati. The cheese is made with raw milk or milk heated with hot rocks – a primitive thermal milk treatment. Often the curd is heated until it is semi-cooked.


Modern Pecorino Sardo production is divided into two types, sweet and mature. Both use whole sheep’s milk inoculated with enzymes from veal rennet. The curd is broken into hazelnut-sized pieces to make the sweet type, and rice kernel-sized pieces for the more mature. The curds are then semi cooked, pressed, and salted. The sweet cheese is matured for 20 to 60 days, while the aged is kept for at least 120, at which point it can be smoked using natural methods.

Both are formed into small cylinders, 4 to 5 inches tall. The sweet type has a rind that is thin, smooth and straw-colored with a white paste, and sweet, slightly acidic flavor. The more mature has a smooth straw or brown-colored rind, and its' flavor is strong and almost spicy.

Both types of Pecorino Sardo can be served as part of a cheese plate, accompanied by vegetables and fruit, or grated over a number of dishes. 

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