Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Debbie in Italy, Part 4: Sardinian Pecorino

This is the fourth post from Debbie Driscoll documenting what she learned in Italy during her visit in Fall 2010. Debbie, owner of Debbie's Delicious Cheese, teaches home cheesemaking classes in Portland and beyond. You can find a listing of her upcoming classes at

Pecorino Fascere

Fascere is a traditional Sardinian cheese. Giovanni and Giovanna were both originally from Sardinia and moved to Tuscany about 25 years ago. As the people of Tuscany moved abandoned their farms and moved to more urban areas in latter half of last century, it became common for Sardinians to purchase the farms and take over the Tuscan cheesemaking traditions. In the case of the Porcus, they still keep their Sardinian cheesemaking heritage alive with their Sardinian milk sheep and their Pecorino Fascere.

This was my favorite cheese at Podere Paugnano. It was the least sheepy and had a little sharpness and great flavor without being too strong.

The steps are the same as the for Stagionato except for slightly lower cooking temperature and the use of a special wooden hoop mold, pictured below.

Pecorino Fascere

Cheese molds: the Fascere hoops are on the right; the tall cylinder of molds all the way to the left were for Pecorino Stagionato; round, partially conical molds are for ricotta.

1. Heat milk to 37-38C.
2. Add rennet and stir for 1 minute.
3. Let set for 20 minutes, or until clean break.
4. Cut curd into rice size pieces, then continue to agitate for 15 minutes, maintaining the curd at 37-38C.
5. Pour into the Fascere molds. (These are tear-drop shaped hoops of wood secured with twine - see photo.)
6. Use hands to press curd in molds and expel whey. As curds compress, add more curd and repress so that curd is level or nearly level with top of mold.
7. Maintain temperature of curd at 37-38C while allowing to drain freely for 45 minutes.
8. Flip the entire mold (do no remove the cheese from the mold).
9. Tighten the hoop to return the curd level to the top of the mold (the curd contracts/shrinks as it loses whey during draining)
10. Return to 37-38C environment for 45 minutes.
11. Flip and tighten again.
12.. Return to 37-38C environment for 20 minutes.
13. Keep cheese in molds and transfer to room temperature rack (low 70s). Store at room temperature for 1 day.
14. After the day at room temperature, unmold, flip, apply a generous coating of salt to the surface of the cheese and return to mold. Let sit for 5 hours per kilogram of cheese. (For example, if you have a 1 kg cheese, let salt sit on cheese for 5 hours. If you have a 2 kg cheese, let salt sit on cheese for 10 hours.)
15. After the salt has absorbed for the appropriate amount of time, unmold and rinse salt from cheese.
16. After rinsing salt from cheese, place unmolded cheese in 12-16C environment for 10 days.
17. After 10 days at 12-16C, apply a thin coating of oil or tomato juice.
18. Return to the 12-16C environment for:
      Small (<1 kg): up to 3 months
      Large (2+ kg) 5-6 months

Wash mold from cheese with water and pat dry before cutting/serving.

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