Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cheese in the Pasta Pantry

No pasta lover's pantry is complete without a wedge of Parmesan in the refrigerator. Always buy Parmesan in a piece, never pre-grated. It's best to buy a wedge that weighs no more than 8-10oz (250g-300g), as a larger piece will probably dry out before you use it up. Store wrapped in foil in the warmest part of the refrigerator. If it does dry out, try wrapping it in a piece of damp cheesecloth to re-moisten. Parmesan can be frozen and it will retain its flavor well, but it will become too crumbly to grate when defrosted.

We always buy Italian Parmesan and, whenever possible, Parmigiano-Reggiano. Although more expensive, it is unquestionably superior in flavor and texture. We like to present Parmesan at the table in a manageable piece with a small hand grater and allow everyone to enjoy freshly grating their own additional cheese. Otherwise, grate it first in the kitchen and serve it in a bowl.

Pecorino Romano is a tangy, salty sheep's milk cheese which is also suitable for grating. It is traditionally served with pasta dishes originating from Southern Italy, where pungent flavors dominate. When called for in a recipe, it is because the distinctively sharp taste of Pecorino is the best complement to the sauce. And, although we do list grated Parmesan as an alternative, we urge you to seek out Pecorino cheese from Italian specialty and gourmet stores to serve when it is the most appropriate choice for the recipe.

Gorgonzola is a creamy colored, blue-veined cheese with a flavor that varies from mildly tangy to piquant. When buying Gorgonzola for pasta, remember that the creamier the consistency, the mellower the flavor.

When buying mozzarella at the supermarket, always choose whole milk "fresh" mozzarella that comes in a squashed, ball shape and is sold in plastic bags surrounded by water. Never buy die rubbery blocks of mozzarella. Real mozzarella is made from the milk of the Italian water buffalo and has a fresher flavor than mozzarella made from cow's milk. But, for cooking, the superior buffalo mozzarella is not essential.

No comments:

Post a Comment