Cheese of the Week – Gorgonzola

June 27, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Posted in baking, cheese, Food | 2 Comments
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Gorgonzola is a traditional, creamery and co-operative, blue cheese. The greenish-blue penicillin mould imparts a sharp, spicy flavor and provides an excellent contrast to the rich, creamy cheese. Gorgonzola is made in the northern Italian village, according to which the cheese has its name, either from unpasteurized or pasteurized milk to which the mould is added. At about four weeks the cheeses are pierced with thick needles to encourage the spread of the mould. Gorgonzola ripens in three to six months. The cheese is usually wrapped in foil to keep it moist. Its color ranges from white to straw-yellow with an unmistakable marbled green or bluish-green mould. The taste ranges from mild to sharp, depending on age. Gorgonzola is also excellent in salads and dips.

Country: Italy
Milk: cow milk
Texture: soft
Fat content: 48 %

Gorgonzola has reportedly been produced in the town of the same name since AD 879, acquiring its greenish-blue marbling in the eleventh century. However, the town’s claim of geographical origin is disputed by other localities.

Today, it is mainly produced in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. Whole cow’s milk is used, to which starter bacteria is added, along with spores of the mould Penicillium glaucum. Penicillium roqueforti, used in Roquefort cheese, may also be used The whey is then removed during curdling, and the result aged at low temperatures.

During the aging process metal rods are quickly inserted and removed, creating air channels that allow the mold spores to grow into hyphae and cause the cheese’s characteristic veining. Gorgonzola is typically aged for three to four months. The length of the aging process determines the consistency of the cheese, which gets firmer as it ripens. There are two varieties of Gorgonzola, which differ mainly in their age: Gorgonzola Dolce (also called Sweet Gorgonzola) and Gorgonzola Piccante (also called Gorgonzola Naturale, Gorgonzola Montagna, or Mountain Gorgonzola).

Under Italian law, Gorgonzola enjoys Protected Geographical Status. Termed DOC in Italy, this means that it can only be produced in the provinces of Novara, Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Cuneo, Lecco, Lodi, Milan, Pavia, Varese, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli, as well as a number of comuni in the area of Casale Monferrato (province of Alessandria).

Gorgonzola made with goat’s milk is firm and salty. It is made usually in the Prealpi area of Piedmont and Lombardy, especially in the provinces of Lecco and Alessandria.

Gorgonzola may be eaten in many ways. It may be melted into a risotto in the final stage of cooking, or served alongside polenta. Pasta with gorgonzola is a dish appreciated almost everywhere in Italy by gorgonzola lovers; usually gorgonzola goes on short pasta, such as penne, rigatoni, mezze maniche, or sedani, not with spaghetti or linguine. Because of its distinctive flavor, it is frequently offered as pizza topping. Combined with other soft cheeses it is an ingredient of pizza ai quattro formaggi (four-cheeses pizza).

 
Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza

Ingredients

1/8 cup butter
2 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 (10 ounce) package refrigerated pizza dough
1 pound Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Directions

In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Saute onions in butter until the onions are soft and dark brown, approximately 25 minutes. Stir in sugar, and continue cooking for 1 or 2 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Grease a pizza pan or cookie sheet, and press out the dough to desired thickness. Spread onions evenly over the dough, and top with crumbled Gorgonzola.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until done.

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