Typical Italian cheeses: Provolone del Monaco DOP

Typical Italian cheeses: Provolone del Monaco DOP

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EU recognition: Official Journal of the European Union - Series C 140 of 20.6.2009

Origins and production area

Provolone del Monaco Dop is a semi-hard cheese with spun paste, aged, produced in the province of Naples exclusively with raw milk.
The breeding area of ​​cows, production and maturing is delimited by the municipalities of Agerola, Casola di Napoli, Castellamare di Stabia, Gragnano, Lettere, Massa Lubrense, Meta, Piano di Sorrento, Pimonte, Sant'Agnello, Sorrento, Santa Maria La Charity, Vico Equense.
The specificity of Provolone del Monaco is the result of a set of factors typical of the area of ​​the Lattari Mountains - Sorrentine Peninsula, in particular of the organoleptic characteristics of the milk produced exclusively from cattle raised on the territory, of the transformation process that still reflects the traditions artisans and the particular microclimate that characterizes the processing and maturing environments. Since ancient times, the typicality of the PDO is closely linked to the breeding of the autochthonous bovine breed Agerolese.
The breeding of cattle in the Lattari Mountains - Sorrento Peninsula dates back to 264 BC, when the Picentini, the first inhabitants of these mountains, transformed the space taken from the woods into arable land and began the activity of breeding domestic animals, especially cattle with milk attitude.
The typical name Provolone del Monaco dates back to ancient times, and is closely linked to the way in which in the past this cheese was transported for sale to the Naples market.
The provolons were loaded onto rowboats and here improvised peasant traders, to protect themselves from the humidity of the sea and the night, used to cover themselves with a large cloak similar to the habit worn by the monks.
Once they arrived in Naples, the people who worked at the market at the port started calling the transporter, Monaco, and its cheese, the Provolone del Monaco.

Provolone del Monaco PDO

Characteristics and production phases

The product admitted to protection, upon release for consumption, must have the following characteristics:
a) aging for at least one hundred and eighty days (six months), with a maximum yield of 9 kg per hectolitre of processed milk;
b) a slightly elongated melon or pear without a head with a minimum weight of 2.5 kg and a maximum weight of 8 kg; a thin yellowish rind with slightly dark tones, almost smooth with slight longitudinal inlets in correspondence with the raffia ties used for the support in pairs that divide the Provolone into a minimum of 6 faces;
c) a paste, cream-colored with yellowish tones, elastic, compact, uniform and without flaking, soft and with typical holes ("partridge eye") of variable diameter up to 5 mm, with the possible presence of sporadic holes of diameter greater, up to 12 mm, more abundant towards the center of the mass;
d) a fat content on the dry substance of not less than 40.5%;
e) a sweet buttery flavor and a light and pleasant spicy taste;
f) the curing rooms located in the locations referred to in art. 3, moreover, give this cheese the flavors enhanced by the length of the seasoning. After 7-8 months the provolone will tend to turn yellow further, thickening the rind and taking on a more and more spicy flavor and a more consistent appearance of the pasta, even if still quite soft and always without flaking.
The milk intended for processing must be that produced by secretion of the mammary gland and not subjected to a temperature above 40 ° C or to a treatment having an equivalent effect, as described in art. 2, paragraph 1, of the EEC Directive 46/92. The coagulation of the milk must be obtained by rennet for about 40-60 minutes by adding kid rennet or natural liquid calf rennet alone or in combination with each other, with at least 50% kid rennet rennet, heating to 34-42 ° C.
When the curd has reached the desired consistency, after a few minutes, it is broken up to obtain very small lumps the size of a hazelnut first and then a grain of corn. Leave it to rest for about 20 minutes.
The curd must then be heated, so as to have a temperature of about 48-52 ° C in the mass, and first let it rest for up to 30 minutes, taking care that the temperature does not drop below 45 ° C, then it must be extracted from the serum and transferred to hemp sheets or perforated steel baskets for maturation.
After the spinning tests, by hand in hot water, have given a positive result in terms of elasticity and resistance, the curd must be cut into strips of variable size. Follow the operations, to be carried out manually, of spinning and modeling of the mass with water at 85-95 ° C in shapes with the sizes established by the specification. This is followed by firming by immersion in cold water and salting by immersion in saturated brine for 8-12 hours / kg of product.
The cheeses obtained, tied in pairs, hung on special frames, must be left to mature for lactic-proteolytic maturation, first at room drying temperature for ten to twenty days and then in an environment at a temperature between 8 and 15 ° C for a period of not less than six months, during this period exclusively subjected to washing and cleaning of molds and any oiling (extra virgin olive oil - DOP Penisola Sorrentina).
The size of the shapes must be such that, at the end of seasoning, they have a minimum weight of 2.5 kg and a maximum weight of 8 kg.

Gastronomy and recommended wines

It is recommended to combine it with very full-bodied and aged red wines. Its consumption has always been intended for noble tables where it is appreciated for its round, soft and well-characterized flavor.

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