Parmigiano-Reggiano, also known in English as Parmesan, is a hard, granular cheese, cooked but not pressed, named after the producing areas near Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna (all in Emilia-Romagna), and Mantova (in Lombardia), Italy. Under Italian law, only cheese produced in these provinces may be labelled "Parmigiano-Reggiano", while European law classifies the name as a protected designation of origin.Parmigiano is the Italian adjective for Parma. Reggiano is the Italian adjective for Reggio Emilia.Parmigiano-Reggiano is commonly grated over pasta dishes, stirred into soups and risottos, and eaten on its own. It is often shaved or grated over other dishes.Slivers and chunks of the hardest parts of the crust are sometimes simmered in soup. They can also be just roasted and eaten as a snack.The hollowed-out crust of a whole wheel of Parmigiano can be used as a serving pot for large groups.
Grana Padano is one of the most popular cheeses of Italy. The name comes from the noun grana (‘grain’), which refers to the distinctively grainy texture of the cheese, and the adjective Padano, which refers to the valley Pianura Padana.Like Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is a semifat hard cheese which is cooked and ripened slowly (for at least 9 months, then, if it passes the quality tests, it will be fire-branded with the Grana Padano trademark). The cows are milked twice a day, the milk is left to stand, and then partially skimmed. Milk produced in the evening is skimmed to remove the surface layer of cream and mixed with fresh milk produced in the morning. The partly skimmed milk is transferred into copper kettles and coagulated; the resulting curd is cut to produce granules with the size of rice grains, which gives the cheese its characteristic texture, and then cooked to 53-56°C. It is produced year-round and the quality can vary seasonally as well as by year. Though similar to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the younger Grana Padano cheeses are less crumbly, milder and less complex in flavor than their more famous, longer-aged relative.
Pecorino is the name of a family of hard Italian cheeses made from ewe's milk. The word derives from pecora meaning ‘sheep’, also from the Latin pecora meaning livestock. A good Pecorino Stagionato is often the finish of a meal, served with pears and walnuts or drizzled with strong chestnut honey. Pecorino is also often used to finish pasta dishes, and used to be the natural choice for most Italian regions from Umbria down to Sicily, rather than the more expensive Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is still preferred today for the pasta dishes of Rome and Lazio, for example Pasta dressed with sugo all'amatriciana, Pasta Cacio e pepe, and Pasta alla Gricia.
Scamorza is an Italian cow's milk cheese, similar to mozzarella. It can also be made from other milks, but that is less common.Smoked Scamorza Scamorza is a plastic curd cheese, in which the fresh curd matures in its own whey for several hours to allow acidity to develop by the process of lactose being converted to lactic acid. Artisanal cheesemakers generally form the cheese into a round shape, and then tie a string around the mass one third of the distance from the top, and hang to dry. The resulting shape is pear-like. This is sometimes referred to as "strangling" the cheese. The cheese is usually white in color unless smoked. When smoked, the color is almond with a lighter interior. Scamorza can be substituted for mozzarella in most dishes as can any other cheese but the resulting taste will be much stronger and more dominant. It is reputed to melt better in baking. Using the smoked variety adds a nice background flavor in replacement of mozzarella. In Italy, scamorza is more commonly made in the south rather than the north. Technically, scamorza is a product of Puglia, where it is made throughout Bari Province However, it is available across the country, both in the unsmoked and smoked forms. Mario Batali cites grilled scamorza as a traditional dish in Neapolitan cooking.Scamorza in Bari is made from sheep's milk. This is not necessarily true of cheeses called scamorza outside the EU.