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|Country of origin||Italy|
|Region, town||Sardinia, Lazio, and Province of Grosseto (Tuscany)|
|Source of milk||Sheep|
|Texture||hard and very crumbly|
|Aging time||5 months or more|
|Certification||Certification PDO 1996|
|Related media on Wikimedia Commons|
Pecorino Romano (Italian pronunciation: [pekoˈriːno roˈmaːno]) is a hard, salty Italian cheese, often used for grating, made with sheep's milk. The name "pecorino" simply means "ovine" or "of sheep" in Italian; the name of the cheese, although protected, is a simple description rather than a brand: "[formaggio] pecorino romano" is simply "sheep's [cheese] of Rome".
Pecorino Romano was a staple in the diet for the legionaries of ancient Rome. Today, it is still made according to the original recipe and is one of Italy's oldest cheeses. On the first of May, Roman families traditionally eat pecorino with fresh fava beans during a daily excursion in the Roman Campagna. It is mostly used in Central and Southern Italy.
Pecorino Romano cheese, whose method of production was first described by Latin authors such as Varro and Pliny the Elder about 2,000 years ago, was first created in the countryside around Rome. Its long-term storage capacity led to it be used for marching Roman legions' rations. A daily ration of 27 grams was established to be given to the legionaries, as a supplement to the bread and farro soup. This cheese gave back strength and vigour to tired soldiers, giving them a high-energy food that was easy to digest. It was produced in Latium until 1884 when, due to the city council prohibiting salting the cheese in their shops in Rome, many producers moved to the island of Sardinia.
It is produced exclusively from the milk of sheep raised on the plains of Lazio and in Sardinia. Most of the cheese is now produced on the island, especially in Macomer. Pecorino Romano must be made with lamb rennet from animals raised in the same production area, and is consequently not suitable for vegetarians.
Pecorino Romano is most often used on pasta dishes, like the better-known Parmigiano Reggiano. Its distinctive aromatic and pleasantly sharp, very salty flavour lead to it being preferred for some Italian pasta dishes with highly flavoured sauces, especially those of Roman origin, such as bucatini all'amatriciana, spaghetti alla carbonara, and spaghetti cacio e pepe (of which it is a main ingredient). The sharpness depends on the period of maturation, which varies from five months for a table cheese to eight months or longer for a grating cheese. Most pecorino cheeses are classified as grana and are granular, hard and sharply flavored.
There are other regional types of pecorino cheese. Pecorino Toscano (from Tuscany) and pecorino Sardo (from Sardinia) are not particularly salty, and are generally eaten as they are, rather than grated and used as a cooking ingredient. In the United States "Romano cheese" is sold; it is not based on real pecorino Romano, but is a milder cheese made with cow's milk.
- Sardinian sheep
- List of ancient dishes and foods
- List of Italian PDO cheeses
- List of sheep milk cheeses
- Damiana Verucci (18 October 2016). "Lazio contro Sardegna, scoppia la guerra del pecorino romano" [Lazio against Sardinia, the Roman pecorino war breaks out]. Il Tempo (in Italian).
- "Pecorino Romano DOP". agraria.org (in Italian). Istruzione Agraria online. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
- "Italian Pecorino Romano History".
- IL FORMAGGIO DI SARDEGNA - Fiore Sardo Pecorino Sardo Pecorino Romano Canestrati Ricotta Formaggi Molli Formaggi di capra
- "Il Disciplinare di Produzione" (PDF). pecorinoromano.com. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- "Pecorino Romano". The Gourmet Cheese of the Month Club. Retrieved 2019-10-22.