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PDO Gorgonzola: new recipes and flavour combinations
Gorgonzola cheese is a pillar of the cheese industry in the region of Lombardy. Since 1996, the year in which this cheese obtained the Protected Designation of Origin label, every step must comply with product specifications and must take place only in a specific geographical area.
There are two types of PDO Gorgonzola cheeses: mild and spicy. The difference lies in the aging period, which is at least 50 days for mild Gorgonzola and minimum 80 days for spicy Gorgonzola. The flavour is also remarkably different: as far as the former is concerned, the cheese is mild and very soft, while in the case of the latter, the flavour is quite intense, spicy and pungent.
What’s the best way to fully savour PDO Gorgonzola cheese? Which are the best food combinations? Here are some ideas.
Mild Gorgonzola cheese
As we already mentioned, mild Gorgonzola cheese has a more “delicate” taste than the spicy one. It is creamy and melts in the mouth; it has a distinct marbling which is, however, not too overwhelming. It is the top-selling Gorgonzola cheese.
You can savour mild Gorgonzola in a thousand different ways and it is ideal to turn endless recipes into true delights: starters, pasta or risotto dishes, salads and even rich sauces and condiments. Let’s take a look at some food pairings which best enhance the flavour of this exceptional cheese.
We can pair PDO mild Gorgonzola cheese by concordance or contrast. In the first case, we enhance the sweet notes of cheese, by pairing it with equally sweet products, such as squash, pears and figs. A classic and exceptional dish is risotto with squash and Gorgonzola cheese. This cheese also pairs very well with pears in a salad for a fresh, but delicious side dish. Try out roasted bread with Gorgonzola cheese spread on top, fig slices and one drop of honey - simple, but delicious.
Pairing it by contrast means pairing Gorgonzola with bitter or distinctly salty flavours. As far as bitter flavours are concerned, we suggest pairing Gorgonzola with rocket salad, endive salad and Radicchio di Treviso - my favourite combo. A flavourful dish idea could be pasta with Radicchio, Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts for that crunchy note. For a surprising starter, try to cut the endive into four parts and steam them, add Gorgonzola cheese dices and bake them in the oven.
Gorgonzola cheese pairs really well with sapid flavours, too, such as for instance Speck or dry-cured ham. With these ingredients at our disposal, we can prepare a pasta or risotto dish, ravioli or gnocchi. If we are in a rush, a great option is walnut bread, Gorgonzola cheese and a delicious slice of prosciutto ham.
Mild Gorgonzola cheese can also be cooked, since it melts perfectly, creating a smooth and velvety sauce which is ideal to pour onto meat. On the contrary, spicy Gorgonzola is crumblier and is usually not cooked. Let’s take a look at some mouth-watering options with spicy Gorgonzola cheese.
Mild Gorgonzola with dry-cured ham and figs - Risotto with mild Gorgonzola, hazelnuts and pears
Spicy Gorgonzola cheese
Spicy Gorgonzola has a particular flavour which is very interesting, but perhaps not for everyone. The sweet notes of mild Gorgonzola have been replaced by a sharp sapidity. Aging brings out the powerful character of this cheese and makes it strong and robust.
Which food pairs well with spicy Gorgonzola cheese? The most classic pairing is Gorgonzola cheese with acacia honey which is very sweet and can partially tone down the intense flavour of this cheese. Another pairing option could be with jams, like red onion jam. It also pairs really well with mostarda, especially pear mostarda which enhances the spiciness.
Spicy Gorgonzola has a firm and crumbly paste; try to add crumbled Gorgonzola to salads or cooked vegetables to kick the flavour up a notch. It tastes exceptional with beets, with which it creates a very interesting flavour contrast, with steamed potatoes, which enhance the flavour of cheese, and with cauliflower, especially if it is mixed with béchamel sauce and cooked au gratin.
You can also bake very flavourful savoury biscuits with spicy Gorgonzola, which you can serve as an appetizer, or you can dice the cheese, coat it in breadcrumbs and fry it for an amuse-bouche that is sure to impress.
It can also be used to make sauces, gravy and condiments, but since it is not a creamy cheese, bear in mind that it will not fully melt. Another rustic and exceptional dish is Polenta with Gorgonzola, ideal to warm up cold winter days. Here you have some tips to pair Gorgonzola cheese, but the possibilities are truly endless.
Hamburger with melted spicy Gorgonzola - Red rice with spicy Gorgonzola and dried tomatoes
We have talked about several food combinations, let’s take a look at which wine or beer type pairs well with PDO Gorgonzola cheese. Gorgonzola is a fatty cheese, so we will need to choose a wine with a high alcohol content to cleanse the palate. The difference between mild and spicy cheese plays a fundamental role here, since these two cheeses have completely different features.
Let’s start by talking about mild Gorgonzola. The ideal combination would be a smooth white wine which is able to hold its own against Gorgonzola, such as dry Malvasia with a well-rounded, but slightly sapid taste. Lugana and Soave are also good. It also pairs well with red wines, as long as they are smooth and sapid at the same time, such as for instance Sangiovese di Romagna or Valtellina superiore.
Spicy Gorgonzola must be paired with an important, well-structured and aged red wine: Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino or Amarone della Valpolicella are among the best ones. The combination with liqueur wine, such as Marsala or Passito di Pantelleria, is also an interesting one.
Let’s move on to beer. Only intense aromas are able to support a cheese like this one. Pilsner can take on the challenge; this beer has an intense hop aroma, as well as a dry and bitter flavour which is not too overwhelming and can cleanse the palate after the fatty cheese.
Gorgonzola is an exceptional and versatile cheese which tastes amazing in many different ways. Recreate one of these pairings or try out something new: with such an incredible cheese, you can’t go wrong.