Pecorino Sardo is a DOP product that 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. Pecorino Sardo is made exclusively with milk from the Sardinian sheep breed, which is known for its high mill production. The sheep are raised on the inland mountains in an environment rich in herbs and flavors. They can be found throughout the region.
Pecorino Sardo has been produced for centuries and since the 18th century the various types have developed, including fresa, spiatatu, rossi fini, bianchi, affumicati, or smoked. 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.
Pecorino Sardo DOP
Modern Pecorino Sardo production is divided into two types, sweet and mature. Both use whole sheep’s milk that can be inoculated with enzymes and veal rennet. The curd is broken into hazelnut-sized pieces to make the sweet type, and rice kernel-sized piece for the more mature cheese. The curds are then semi cooked, pressed and then salted. The sweet cheese is matured for 20 to 60 days, while the mature cheese is kept for at least 120 days, at which point it can be smoked using natural methods.
The sweet type is cylindrical in shape, is 2.5 to 4 in tall, 6 to 7 in wide and weighs between 2.2 and 5 lbs. It has at least 40% fat content. The rind is thin, smooth and straw-colored. The paste is white with a slight occhiatura and the flavor is sweet and slightly acidic.
The mature type is also cylindrical. It is 4 to 5.5 in tall, 6 to 8 wide, weights between 4 and 9 lbs, and contains 35% fat. It has a smooth straw- or brown-colored rind. The paste is compact and straw-colored. 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. They can also be grated over a number of dishes. Pecorino is made throughout Italy, but some of the more varieties are Toscano, Romano, Siciliano and Moliterno. A limited amount of high-quality pecorino is made high in the Apennine mountain range in the province of Reggio Emilia.