The origins of Pecorino go back all the way to the age of the Roman Empire. It was a staple in the diet of soldiers due to its ability to last long periods of time and being relatively cheap to produce. The name suggests what the cheese is made of: pecora in Italian is sheep therefore pecorino is sheep’s milk cheese.
Pecorino Romano is a hard cheese yet not too dry and certainly not prone to breakage like Parmigiano Reggiano. The flavour is extremely salty, tangy and grainy. Pecorino shares some the same rough yet honest flavours and aromas with many dishes of the Roman culinary tradition. Pecorino is made in cylinders weighing about 22 kilograms each and you will often see it covered in a black varnish rind to preserve humidity.
The milk is kept whole and pasteurised. Once the rennet is added the curds are broken and then recooked at around 48C°. From here the cheese is strained in containers and either brined or hand salted (both are acceptable for DOP status). From here the cheese ages a minimum of 5 months before it’s released onto the market with the official branding. D.O.P is not only a price tag but a guarantee that the product you are buying is genuine and adheres to the adequate traditions.
The Consortium of Pecorino Romano has had the responsibility since 1981 to safeguard and guarantee quality in the creation of this product. This need for labelling and consortiums arose in the 1950’s when imitations of Italian delicacies were arising elsewhere in Europe.
What is often forgotten and yet is absolutely key to the unique flavour of our products is that sometimes it is the air, the water and the passion of the producers which make something taste great. This combination of forces is not something which can be replicated! You will find Pecorino Romano in two of the most iconic dishes of the Roman table: Carbonara and Cacio & Pepe!
You can use Pecorino on many other pasta dishes but it’s also great with offal based dishes such as tripe or coda alla vaccinara.