Looking to expand your cheese board repertoire with something a little exciting? Caciocavallo is the cheese we can’t get enough of this season.
What is Caciocavallo Cheese?
Caciocavallo, is a specialty of Southern Italy whose name literally translates to “cheese on horseback”. There’s a bit of mystery surrounding the unusual naming of this formidable fromage. One origin story purports that caciocavallo got its name because during the aging process caciocavallo is tied and secured to wooden posts with rope as you would tether a horse. The other story has to do with the origins of the cheese; some believe that caciocavallo was first made using horsemilk and aged in hides while riders rode on horseback. Either way, caciocavallo has some seriously ancient roots: it has been made and enjoyed regularly since Ancient Greece and Rome.
Today, caciocavallo is a soft, stringy cheese made with cow’s milk. The style (or family) that caciocavallo belongs to is called ‘pasta filata’ or stretched curd cheese. Caciocavallo shares the category with familiar and easily recognizable mozzarella and provolone cheeses. The hefty 3-5 kilogram, gourd-shaped, cheeses are aged for around 3-6 months, resulting in a sharp, salty, and surprisingly spicy, tasting cheese. The longer caciocavallo ages, the spicier it becomes.
Cooking with Caciocavallo
Caciocavallo is an excellent melting cheese. There are even street food spectacles around Italy where caciocavallo is melted over a wood-fire grill and the melted drips of cheese are slathered over bruschetta (similar to raclette). This easy melting attribute makes caciocavallo a great substitute for it’s fellow family members, provolone and mozzarella. Try swapping out the mozzarella in these recipes, Spicy Chicken Parmesan and Baked Ziti, for the new-found caciocavallo. Let provolone have a day off and let caciocavallo cover these cheesy sandwich recipes: Easy Meatball Subs and Cheesesteak.
Caciocavallo cheese is pretty easy to find, most specialty cheese retailers will have caciocavallo available. There are also direct-ship online cheese shops that can send caciocavallo to you. Murray’s and Alma Gourmet both carry and ship caciocavallo.
Feature Image: Flickr user Nataraj Metz ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )