This cheese originates from southern Italy and the name “cavallo” derives from its literal meaning of ‘cheese on horseback’, describing the way that it is hung over a beam to dry. This is a drawn or stretched curd cheese, ripened for a minimum of 15 days to two years and even longer. The ripening process generates a mould and, when washed, the rind is hard and shiny. The texture may vary from semi-soft to semi-hard and it has an intense golden yellow colour, with tiny, greasy cracks. Caciocavallo can be spicy or sweet depending on the rennet used. Consumed fresh or aged, grated or melted, with its sharp and persistent aroma and a full, mellow flavour is nowadays an essential ingredient in the Mediterranean cuisine: cheese boards, stuffed pastas, baked dishes and on homemade pizzas. It pleasantly enhances the flavour of red meat and mushrooms.
Aged Caciocavallo ranks with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gorgonzola, as well as its regional sister mozzarella, in terms of prominence and historical significance. Yet it remains mostly unknown stateside. Saltier, with a sharper bite, it has more spicy notes and pairs well with robust southern Italian red wines Primitivo from Puglia, which round out its piquant notes. Or, it can be used in lieu of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino to grate over pasta, soup or risotto, and into fillings or sauces.