The unique flavor of Pecorino di Pienza is due to a unique combination elsewhere: the clayey soils of the pastures, whose fragrant herbs give the milk a peculiar flavor of chestnut, bay leaf and herbaceous; the sheep, which are only 3000 in Pienza, and the latt with which a very different cheese from other types of pecorino is produced.
This delicacy was even sought after by Lorenzo the Magnificent, who went to Pienza to taste the pecorino di Pienza, which is why it is a specialty that has a long tradition, just like Tuscan wines. The other peculiarity of this hard cheese is that it is obtained from sheep's milk of the Sardinian breed, since in the past the peasants of Sardinia, experts in the production of pecorino, moved to Tuscany with the sheep, handing down their craftsmanship and making this territory a point of reference for dairy production.
The types of pecorino di Pienza
There are two main types: Pecorino di Pienza semi-seasoned red, tinted with tomato juice as a protective coating, and the aged pecorino di Pienza, which has a black colored rind.
Pienza it is considered the capital of Pecorino: a small town in the Sienese countryside with a vast agri-food culture. Here, for example, the Pecorino di Pienza aged in barriques, put to rest for 90 days.
To produce it, veal rennet is used instead of kid, which is why it is not spicy like other types of pecorino.
The wheels are aged for at least 90 days in oak barriques, which give the cheese hints of marc. If the seasoning is 30 days, the pecorino is defined fresh, it is soft and is ideal as a cheese to be melted or cooked on the grill.
Semi-seasoned pecorino di Pienza (from 2 to 5 months) has a round flavor and its rind is treated with olive oil, while the more seasoned one can be enjoyed in combination with balsamic vinegar, honey or jams, or can grate. There are also more valuable varieties such as the black pecorino di Pienza, with a dry and delicate flavor, the one aged in terracotta jars and wrapped in walnut leaves, the one aged in a cave dug into the tuff.
This maturation process, which lasts 4 months, gives the pecorino an unmistakable aroma, distinct from the other types.
Incredibly Pecorino di Pienza has not obtained, for now, a DOP certification, but this has no effect on the delicacy of a cheese that is unparalleled, even in Tuscany.
Pecorino PDO History
Pecorino Stagionato Toscano is produced with sheep's milk coming from pastures in the Tuscany region or from other neighboring territories included in its own specification. Rich in tradition, it is famous all over the world for its fresh and gentle flavor. When young, under the white-brown rind, this enchanting cheese has a sweet taste and a milky aroma, a quality that it loses during maturation in favor of a more intense and structured taste that gives it a surprising aromatic complexity.
Without a doubt the aging makes this incredible cheese, which apparently seems simple, a greatness in the quality of its raw materials, and all the passion in the art of its production.
Good in itself as a table cheese, it finds endless possibilities to taste it, in appetizers, enhancing it with honey, jam and caramelized fruit, or in delicious salads with the addition of an extra virgin olive oil or finally grated ina first course.
. According to the specification, PDO aged Pecorino Toscano cheese can be produced and aged in the area of origin, with milk produced from flocks raised in the PDO territory, milk from sheep of the native Massese breed or of the imported Comisana and Sarda breeds. The variety of herbs present in the Tuscan pastures give special qualities to the milk, thus helping to create a balanced and harmonious cheese. The shape of Seasoned Pecorino Toscano PDO is cylindrical with convex sides, the wheels must have a diameter between 15 and 22 cm, a height of 7 to 11 cm and a weight between 0.75 and 3.50 kg. Each wheel must bear the trademark of the protection consortium, in ink on the soft cheese, hot on the semi-hard cheese
Seasoned Pecorino DOP Production techniques
Our aged Pecorino Toscano DOP is produced following tradition but with the help of modern technologies, the milk is coagulated at a temperature of 33-38 ° C with calf rennet, possibly the addition of native lactic ferments from the ceppoteca is allowed. of the Consortium for the Protection of Pecorino Toscano DOP. After breaking, the curd is placed inside the forms to allow the whey to be lost, the forms are then left to rest in specific "hot chambers" where through heat and humidity they continue to lose whey, then salting is carried out which can be done dry or in brine. At this point the maturation process begins, at least 20 days for the aged Tuscan Pecorino Toscano with a soft texture and 4 months for the Pecorino Toscano with a semi-hard texture.
Pecorino with Truffle
This fine truffle cheese is a champion among cheeses, produced with pasteurized sheep's milk with the addition of truffles. The white rind is studded with truffles and closes a magically balanced structure with an intense aroma of truffles.
Its excellent balance invites you to consume it at the table at any time, alone or accompanied, always expressing its intense but gentle and elegant flavor on the palate. Accompany it with red wines, it gives great satisfaction.This Pecorino al Tartufo is produced using only fresh pasteurized sheep's milk, Volterra salt, rennet, lactic ferments and of course, "real" black truffle.
The crust, white or very pale straw yellow in color, is soft and studded with truffle nuggets, small pieces that are also found inside the light and compact paste.
The structure of this pecorino with truffle is very balanced and is the result of careful maturation that varies from 30 to 60 days.
We can define this pecorino a "meditation" cheese due to the exceptional flavor that distinguishes it: the intense and aromatic notes of the truffle, in fact, blend perfectly with the sweetness of sheep's milk, in a marriage of unrepeatable flavors that explodes in mouth from the first taste.
It is a cheese that can be eaten at any time of the day, from an aperitif to the end of a meal, even going through a refined tasting. Present it cut into strips or slices not too thin, and accompany it with a good glass of red wine: you will make all your diners happy. Even the most demanding and with a "gourmet" palate
Curiosities about the truffle
If we were to identify a word that embodies all the charm of this mushroom or tuber - yes, because his majesty the truffle is nothing more than a kind of mold of the order Pezizales, a family of Tuberaceae - it's a mystery.
The truffle is the son of the darkness that hides under the earth, sheltered by the roots of the trees. It cannot be cultivated, it can only be sought, and if lucky, found. Even the origin of its name is shrouded in the most mysterious darkness: its etymology has been debated for centuries by linguists who eventually came to the conclusion that the word "truffle" derived from the term territùfru, from late Latin terrae tufer(earth outgrowth), where tufer would be used instead of tuber. Recently, however, Giordano Berti, historian and founder of the Historical Archive of the Truffle, has shown very convincingly that the term truffle is of medieval origin and derives from earth tufule tubera, a wording that appears in the Tacuinum sanitatis, illuminated naturalistic code dating back to the fourteenth century.
Whatever the origin of its name, however, the truffle has been known since the time of the Babylonians, who searched for it under the dunes of the eastern deserts. Its fame reached as far as the Greeks and Romans, who admired it to such an extent that they attributed divine qualities and exceptional properties, especially aphrodisiacs, by virtue of which it was dedicated to none other than Venus, the goddess of Love.
During the Middle Ages, however, it experienced a long period of oblivion: it was completely ousted from the tables of noble and powerful, because it was believed that it contained deadly scents, but above all that it was the food of witches. It therefore survived only in popular and traditional cuisine.
We will have to wait for the Renaissance to find it again in vogue, where it will triumph at the banquets organized by Lucrezia Borgia and Caterina de 'Medici.
Among the most recent historical figures linked to the truffle there is also Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour who used to use it as a powerful diplomatic lever. Among literati he was praised by Alexandre Dumas, who calls him the sancta sanctorum of the table. Lord Byron always kept one on his desk because he was convinced that the odorous scents of the truffle stimulated his poetic creativity.