Picking a Pecorino

Pecorino Ginepro: a good example of a misunderstood cheese

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By David Hammond

Pecorino, a hard cheese that usually ends up grated over pasta, is actually a broad category of cheese that covers a lot of different kinds of cheese.

Holding a Pecorino Ginepro from the Romagna region of Italy,  Lydia Burns, cheese monger at Marion Street Cheese Market, said, "This is really a good example of a misunderstood cheese.  Pecorino is a name most people know. It's called for in many pasta recipes, but what most people don't  know is that pecorino is a much broader style. Pecorino is simply a sheep's milk cheese, and many pecorino cheeses are kind of unbalanced, very dry and salty."

Not unbalanced, very dry or salty, Pecorino Ginepro may change your mind about pecorinos.

According to Burns, "It's a small batch cheese made in a few villages around Emilia-Romanga. It's bathed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then the outside is rubbed with crushed juniper berries ("ginepro" means "juniper" in Italian). After that, it's aged in oak barrels. It's a very visually appealing cheese; you can see the way the interior up against the rind absorbs the balsamic vinegar."

The varying tones of the cheese, particularly around the edges, are beautiful, and that's one reason Burns prefers to shave the cheese rather than grate it. But there's another reason for taking that approach.

"You should definitely eat the whole rind – you're going to get a lot of flavor out of it – and if you just grate it over, say, a pasta with a Bolognese sauce, you're going to lose it."

And at $29.99/lb., you don't want to lose a single bit of this very fine Pecorino.


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