Provolone Valpadana PDO is a semi-hard, stretched-curd cheese made in two varieties, Dolce (mild) and Piccante (spicy). This particular cheese is made using unpasteurised, full-fat cow’s milk exclusively from the provinces of Cremona, Brescia, Verona, Vicenza, Rovigo, Padova and Piacenza, and neighbouring towns in the Bergamo, Mantova, Milan and Trento areas.
Originally hailing from southern Italy, it wasn’t until after the Italian Unification that this cheese spread to the Val Padana with the efforts of the Margotta brothers, and Gennaro Auricchio and Giovanni Carbonelli, who took charge of introducing it to Bassa Bresciana, the area south of Brescia, the Cremona area and the Lodigiano area in Lombardy, respectively.
Much larger in size than other types of stretched-curd cheese, provolone comes in a variety of different shapes: salami-shaped, melon-shaped, conical, pear-shaped and even crowned with a little round head. The cheese is made using milk curd mixed with calf rennet for the Dolce variety, and with lamb and/or goat rennet for the Piccante variety. The curd is then stretched, shaped, salted and left to ripen.
No matter which of the two varieties you choose, PDO Provolone Valpadana is great as a table cheese, or as a welcome addition to an array of dishes. The Dolce version is works well in salads or appetisers. The Piccante variety, on the other hand, is delicious when accompanied with curls of fresh butter, or in savoury pies, fondues or as a pasta filling.