Pecorino (peh-koh-REE-noh) Romano Cheese
From the word pecora which means ewe in Italian, cheeses made from sheep’s milk in Italy are called pecorino. Although the majority of pecorino is made in southern Italy, especially Sardinia, the best known pecorino is Pecorino Romano. Genuine Romano is only produced in the province of Rome from November to June.
My favorite genuine Romano is Locatelli. It’s wonderful grated on pasta dishes but I also enjoy eating it plain at the end of a meal with a glass of red wine. Pecorino is straw colored, 36% fat, semi-hard, granular with a smooth rind coated in oil. It comes in a cylindrical shape about 12 inches in diameter, 16 inches tall and although a little sharper than Parmesan, it is often substituted when used in cooking.
It has an intensely strong sheepy quality to it. It is to southern Italy what Parmigiano-Reggiano is to the north. Look for the sheep’s head logo with Pecorino Romano embossed on the rind to make sure you are getting the real stuff.
Some people find Pecorino too salty but that’s one of the characteristics I love about it. It’s esspecially hard to put down when cooking with it. If you want to pair it with something, you might try
- Charcuterie like salami or sobrassada
- Pear slices
- Dried fruits
The Short of It
- Milk Type: cow or sheep
- Region: Sardinia
- Country: Italy
- Type: Hard
- Taste: sharp & salty
- Fat content: 50%
- Texture: Dense and crumbles easily
- Rind: Natural
- Color: straw-colored
How To Store Pecorino Romano Cheese
Like most cheeses, you want to wrap it up in plastic wrap and store it in one of the cold drawers of your refrigerator. If I purchase a larger piece of Pecorino, I cut off a piece big enough to use throughout the week and use my vacuum sealer to store the rest. If you plan to serve it on a cheese platter before your meal or on a dessert plate after, be sure to remove it from the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving so all the flavors can come out when eating.
Check out this report on Pecorino from a young student who emailed asking about information on cheese. It’s really good.
“Romano, one of the world’s oldest and most favorite cheeses, comes from just outside beautiful Rome. Romano’s original name was Pecorino-Romano. Romano is very important in Central and Southern Italy. Lots of people eat Romano every day on pasta, with a loaf of bread, maybe nice pane tuscano, fresh out of the wood-fire, or with some nice spinach sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Romano has a creamy white color, sharp piquant flavor, and a hard granular texture.
Romano can be used in many of the same menu applications as Parmesan, especially when a more pronounced cheese flavor is desired. There are several different styles of Romano cheese, all of which take their name from the city of Rome. Probably the best known is the sharp, tangy Pecorino-Romano, made with sheep’s milk. Caprino Romano is an extremely sharp goat’s milk version. Vacchino Romano is a very mild cow’s milk cheese. All Romano Cheese is made by a special method known as “rummaging curd,” or draining the curd quickly after molding, then piercing the surfaces slightly before salt is applied.
The first thing to know about Pecorino Romano, which many people don’t focus on, is that it is a DOC cheese; which means it is strictly controlled by the Italian Government, and must be made according to certain specifications to be able to be called Pecorino Romano. It has to be round in shape, be between forty to sixty pounds approximately, aged a minimum of six months, be produced in either Lazio or Sardegna between October and July, be made of one hundred percent sheep’s milk and have the marking of a sheep from the producer. The milk comes from sheep raised in the countryside of Rome which produce only small quantities of milk that is very rich in fat and protein. Thus, allowing for an exceptionally creamy, flavorful cheese.
Sheep’s milk products offer a number of benefits which become increasingly important as science plays an increasingly more intrusive role in the dairy industry. Sheep’s milk cheeses break down into smaller molecules in the body thus allowing for better digestion. Many lactose intolerant people find that they can enjoy sheep’s mild cheeses without repercussions to their health.
A famous brand of romano cheese is Fulvi Pecorino Romano. Romano cheese grates larger so that it does not disappear in food, rather it creates a hearty flavor while enabling you to use less cheese. There are a variety of uses for romano cheese in recipes. Romano cheese can be served as a side dish with pasta dishes.
Romano cheese is said to add a pleasing note to pizza made with a zesty garlic-tomato sauce and spicy sausage. Chefs serve romano cheese as a garnish over cream soups, pasta, or fresh green salads. Another garnish idea is to sprinkle fresh grated romano over egg dishes, such as quiche or frittatas.”
Where To Purchase Pecorino Romano Cheese
I always suggest you try to find it in your local markets whether that’s a supermarket or cheese specialty store but sometimes you can’t find some of these cheeses at these locations. If you really want to try these incredible cheeses, you can typically find them online.