The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 28th December, 2016 for your chance to win a share of $50,000!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Mango recipes

Nothing says summer like mangoes. Go beyond the criss-cross cuts - bake a mango-filled meringue loaf with lime mascarpone, start off the day with a sweet coconut quinoa pudding with sticky mango, or toss it through a spicy warm weather Thai salad.

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Shark Bay Wild Scampi Caviar

Bright blue scampi roe is popping up on menus across Australia. Here's why it's so special.

Taming the Wilderness

Heading to Canada’s far-flung places means a whole lot of adventure with life’s luxuries on the side.

Dark chocolate delice, salted-caramel ganache and chocolate sorbet

"The delice from Source Dining is a winner. May I have the recipe?" Rebecca Ward, Fitzroy, Vic REQUEST A RECIPE To request a recipe, email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au or send us a message via Facebook. Please include the restaurant's name and address, as well as your name and address. Please note that because of the volume of requests we receive, we can only publish a selection in the magazine.

Garlic recipes

This pungent yet essential little bulb sets the foundation for countless dishes across the globe. Slowly roast it alongside spatchcock or whole snapper, or grind it down to thick paste for a rich alioli. When it comes to garlic, the possibilities truly are endless.

Koh Loy Sriracha Sauce, David Thompson's favourite hot sauce

When the master of Thai food pinpoints anything as his favourite, we sit up and listen.

Cooking breakfast like a chef

Direct from our Fare Exchange column and recipe vault, we've picked the best breakfast recipes from chefs cooking around Australia. From croque-monsieur to Paris Brest, you won't find poached eggs on toast here. All of the dishes are the perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee.

Pecorino cheese

Italy produces a boggling array of pecorino cheeses, writes Will Studd, and they're (almost) always delicious.

Italy produces more types of pure ewe's milk cheese than any other country. Collectively known as pecorino, after the Italian word pecora, meaning sheep, these come in an incredible variety of shapes, sizes and styles. The origins of this fascinating cheese family predates cow's milk cheese in Italy by hundreds of years. Many examples are still handmade on a regional scale and rarely leave the country.

Ewe's milk is rich in solids and a litre produces almost twice as much cheese as a litre of cow's milk. Indigenous Italian breeds of sheep, however, produce only a small quantity of milk for just a few months of the year. Consequently, many types of pecorino are made only in spring and early summer, and the type of rennet used to coagulate the milk is crucial in determining the character of the cheese.

The oldest, hardest and most brittle types of pecorino are found south of Rome, particularly in Sicily, known in ancient Greece for its "grating" cheese, where it was added to wine during feasting. Typically made from raw ewe's milk coagulated with lamb's rennet, these cheeses have a firm, dry texture and become increasingly "sheepy" on the nose as they age. Their sharp "hot" flavours are traditionally enhanced with dried chilli or whole black peppercorns.

The pecorino found in the cooler regions of central and northern Italy, notably Tuscany and Umbria, date back to Roman times. Once known simply as cacio (meaning cheese), they are now made almost entirely from pasteurised ewe's milk coagulated with calf rennet. This produces a cheese with a flakier, more moist texture and less aggressive taste than those in the south. A favourite is Cacio di Bosco, which is subtly flavoured with flecks of truffle, making it a guaranteed crowd-pleaser when grated over homemade pasta.

Abruzzo in central Italy is home to the world's most unique pecorino, Pecorino di Farindola, which is coagulated with pig's rennet. Shepherd's cheeses from this remote mountain region date back thousands of years and were made during the annual summer sheep migration from Puglia along the Tratturo Magno (the great track) to the rich pastures of the high plateau. The track is no longer used and many cheeses have disappeared. Pecorino di Farindola is an exception.

It is still made the old-fashioned way, by women only, using raw ewe's milk, and is the only cheese in Europe to use pig's rennet, which adds a distinct yellow tinge and sweet nutty tang to the mature cheese.

By far the largest producer of ewe's milk in Italy is Sardinia. Home to more than 3.5 million sheep, the island's oldest cheese is Fiore Sardo (also known as Pecorino Sardo), which dates back to the Bronze Age. Most exports are produced by industrial dairies, but it's still possible to find rich handmade cheeses that have been lightly smoked in shepherd's huts. Fiore Sardo can be coagulated using either kid's or lamb's rennet, but the locals suspect its name (meaning Sardinian flower) is linked to the use of thistle flowers in place of rennet, a tradition still practised in Portugal and parts of Spain.

Sardinia is also home to the most well known of Italian ewe's milk cheeses, Pecorino Romano. It's the grandfather of Parmigiano-Reggiano and, as its name suggests, was originally made just outside Rome, in the countryside of Latium. Now almost all cheese bearing the name is made in Sardinia. Easily recognisable by the imprint of a sheep's head on its rind, it weighs in at a hefty 25 to 35 kilos and is produced from raw ewe's milk coagulated with lamb rennet. Unlike its cousins, the rind is dry-salted, which adds a salty mineral tang to its flavour. Ready for grating after eight months, the intense flavours and moist, compact, granular texture of Pecorino Romano make it a wonderful alternative to Parmigiano-Reggiano. And, of course, it's essential for an authentic carbonara or Amatriciana sauce.

Sardinia's most notorious pecorino is casu marzu or "rotten cheese". This soft creamy cheese is ripened with cheese-fly maggots. Confronting the wriggling creatures on the cheese is not for the squeamish. I was persuaded to try some while visiting a farm dairy and still remember the extremely tangy, aromatic hot finish lingering painfully on the back of my palate. This was relieved only with copious amounts of rough red wine provided by my smiling hosts. Never again.

Related link: our favourite pasta recipes.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Explainer: wild scampi caviar
30.11.2016
GT's Christmas hamper
29.11.2016
David Thompson's favourite hot sauce
28.11.2016
Our 2016 Christmas issue is out now
28.11.2016
Bruce Pascoe’s crowd-funded Indigenous agriculture project
27.11.2016
Where to start with French beef cuts
18.11.2016
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
The GT x STILY
Christmas Boutique is now open

The smallgoods, homewares, art and more from the pages of GT are now all under one roof, ready to take their place under the tree.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Pasta recipes

Say “Ciao!” to our collection of pasta recipes – from fettu...

Roman recipes

Can’t make the trip to Rome just yet? Get a taste of the Ete...

Italian recipes

Pasta, poultry, desserts for sultry weather – we’re dining I...

Gnocchi recipes

Switch up your usual go-to pasta dish with soft, pillowy gno...

How to make great meatballs

Meatballs – how do you strike the right balance of flavour a...

Humble pie

He knows his favourites wouldn’t pass muster in Italy, but J...

Fergus Henderson on Italian food

Defender of the British culinary faith as he may be, Fergus ...

Italian frozen dessert recipes

Gelato, semifreddo, granita… Italians have a way with frozen...

Italian poultry recipes

Love Italian-style poultry? Then our recipe slideshow will h...

Pizza recipes

We all know that nothing beats homemade pizza – so put down ...

A fistful of focaccia

There are gems to be found all over Italy, but nowhere will ...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×