Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pecorino Sardo Gran Cru

I absolutely love, love, love foods which are rich, creamy, buttery, and savory which is why I adore cheeses made with sheep's milk. I've actually never had a sheep's milk cheese I didn't like. Call me easy or whatever, but the depth of flavor that comes from sheep's milk never fails to satisfy my cravings. This holds true for Pecorino Sardo Gran Cru (Academia Barilla). We introduced it back in June during our 50th Anniversary Party and it was an immediate hit.

Pecorino Sardo Gran Cru is produced in Sassari (Sardinia) with 100% sheep's milk. The texture and flavors remind me of Parmigiano-Reggiano, probably because the same cheese-making techniques are used on both cheeses. This rich, nutty, slightly salty cheese is aged 20 months and has a mild, fruity finish. We like to serve it with one of the spreads made by the same company - my favorite is the Fresh Pears with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, but it also works well naked with a glass of full-bodied red wine.

However, Gran Cru is versatile - not only does it work on a cheese board, but it's great for cooking. I found a cool recipe (below) for Sardinian Gnocchi - deelish! I know what we're having for dinner...

Serves 4
  • 1 lb durum wheat flour (semolina)
  • 3.5 oz lard
  • 3.5 oz lean veal, chopped
  • 3.5 oz lean pork, chopped
  • 1 lb tomato sauce
  • 2.5 oz Pecorino Sardo Gran Cru, chilly, grated
  • 1 onion
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • EVOO
  • salt & pepper

Work the semolina with a generous tbls of oil, a pinch of salt & pepper, and a small amount of water - just enough to obtain a soft but consistent mixture. Divide into pieces, shape into 2cm diameter sticks, and cut these into a length of 3cm. Dimple with your fingers, and then line them up, floured, on a pastry board.

In a pan, put 1 tbls of oil, the chopped onion, the lard, and saute. Add the chopped meat, chopped parsley and rosemary, and continue to saute. Blend in the tomato sauce and 1 ladle of water. Cook slowly for 1 hour, adding more water if necessary.

Cook the "gnocchi" in abundant salted water, drain them and dress with the sauce and the grated Gran Cru. Serve hot & enjoy!


  1. What is EVOO? hello my name is lidia and I am friend to Elyse Dashew; I am also from Sassari and I believe the Gran Cru is made in the province of Sassari, not in Sassari itself.
    Maybe I am wrong...Let me know

  2. Hi Lidia,

    EVOO means Extra Virgin Olive Oil. As for the origin of Pecorino Sardo Gran Cru, according to the cheesemaker, it's "produced in Sassari, an area of Sardinia famous for its pecorino" so it does sound like they're referring to a region rather than a town.