Mozzarella, the art of pasta filata from Campania
As soon as we hear the words ‘PDO Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania’, our mouths immediately start watering. This stretched-curd cheese is a gem of our cheesemaking tradition, as well as the most important PDO label of Southern Italy.
The statistics speak for themselves: more than 500 million kilos of Mozzarella cheeses are made each year, with the turnover constantly increasing – buffalo Mozzarella is a driver of the whole Italian cheesemaking industry. It is also a leading export product, especially to Germany, France and the UK.
And to think that buffalo Mozzarella was actually considered a by-product back in the day! That’s true: since it is quickly perishable, it could go as far as the local market. Therefore, while aged and smoked cheeses started to gain renown, the fame of buffalo Mozzarella was limited to its areas of production.
The brand we selected
In the area next to Salerno, the first buffalo dairies were founded in the late Middle Ages. However, until the mid-20th century, buffalos were used for their incredible strength, rather than for their precious milk. As a matter of fact, farmers used them to plough the fields and would rear them in the semi-wild state.
Nowadays, we know how precious buffalo milk is. And we also know how delicious cheeses from buffalo milk are. Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania obtained the PDO label in 1996 thanks to its incredible sensory features and taste characteristics.
Milk used to make this cheese must be sourced from farms located in the certified area and must be processed according to the region’s traditional methods. When a product tastes this incredible, the least one can do is protecting it as much as possible.
Buffalo VS cow: the ultimate milk battle
Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania is the only Mozzarella in the world to have ever obtained the PDO label. Cow’s milk Mozzarella is not PDO certified. Why is buffalo Mozzarella so special? And how come it is so delicious?
It is a matter of milk quality. Buffalo’s milk is richer in protein, fat and calcium than cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains more water, while buffalo’s milk is thicker and more concentrated, even as far as the flavour is concerned.
In any case, a good milk requires a healthy animal. A high-quality milk implies a perfectly healthy buffalo whose welfare is a priority for the dairy.
We at Italy Bite have selected a PDO buffalo Mozzarella from Campania by a special company, where animal welfare is the highest priority: it is the Azienda Agricola Tempio farm, located in the plain of the temples of Paestum.
To make their Mozzarella cheeses, these cheesemakers only use the milk of their own buffalos; these buffalos often undergo veterinary checks, live in big and comfortable facilities and are milked employing cutting-edge techniques.
Furthermore, the Azienda Agricola Tempio farm makes incredible cheeses that respect the breath-taking environment in which it is located. They produce electricity by using biogas made from sewage sludge, and their soil fertilisation is fully natural and organic.
How is buffalo Mozzarella made?
Let’s get something straight: making PDO buffalo Mozzarella from Campania is an art. We could tell you all about each production step, but the best thing to do to understand what we are talking about is actually eating a nice Mozzarella cheese.
To make buffalo Mozzarella, we start from the curd, like with any cheese. When rennet has been added and the milk has curdled, the curd is broken, cut and left to drain on a steel table.
When the curd has “ripened”, the magic happens. The curd is placed in a basin and boiling water is poured. Cheesemakers start to knead it with a wooden stick. When the cheese paste forms long strings when stretched and becomes glossy and perfectly homogenous, it has reached the perfect point of elasticity.
The most beautiful step begins here. Cheesemakers knead by hand the pasta filata or stretched curd and tear it by hand, cutting it into big or small pieces depending on the Mozzarella shape. Mozzarella cheeses are then plunged into a water and salt brine and are ready to be packaged.
It may seem easy, but the manual skills of the cheesemakers are a key success factor of the PDO buffalo Mozzarella cheese from Campania. As we have mentioned, the milk quality is fundamental, but so is the role of the artisan cheesemaker!
How to serve it
You can serve it whichever way you like! It is a must with tomatoes, but it also tastes exceptional with ham, with any vegetable and torn into pieces on pasta dishes. Which is my favourite recipe, you ask? Take a plate, a fork and a knife, take a half-kilo PDO buffalo Mozzarella from Campania and enjoy. You don’t even need to season it with salt or oil.
The only golden rule that should never be broken is the serving temperature. Never serve a PDO buffalo Mozzarella from Campania straight out of the fridge. You are about to eat one of the most exceptional products in the world, treat it accordingly!
Let’s start lightly
Two light summer appetizers, with raw buffalo mozzarella. Very little preparation for a true delicacy.
Eggplant rolls with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes
Consider two variants for the eggplants: fried or grilled, the former are more delicious, the latter are lighter. The important thing is that the eggplants are in season, the rest is up to you.
While you cook the eggplant, dice the mozzarella and cherry tomatoes and add salt, pepper, oil and basil. When the eggplants are cold, arrange them on a tray and fill them withthe mix of mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, roll them up and hold them with a toothpick.
For a stronger taste, you can replace the cherry tomatoes with dried tomatoes, add some Taggiasca olives, capers or some anchovy fillet. In this case, pay attention to the salt!
Chianina meat tartare with buffalo mozzarella and basil
A chic but super easy appetizer. Chop the chianina meat to a tartare, season it with a little salt and a little oil and put it in the fridge. Slice the buffalo mozzarella and prepare a dressing with basil, oil and mozzarella preserving liquid.
Serve it this way: a slice of mozzarella, chianina meat tartare and basil dressing. A meeting of absolutely irresistible flavours!
First courses: use your imagination!
Let’s move on to first courses, one with raw mozzarella, one that involves cooking. In both cases, success is assured.
Gnocchi dumplings on the crock with ragout and buffalo mozzarella
For the long version you have to prepare the gnocchi and the ragout, but if you’re running out of time don’t worry, you can purchase ready-made potato gnocchi and ragout, as long as they’re of excellent quality. By the way, we have a ragout that is the end of the world on our catalog…
On the other hand, bechamel sauce has to be made. No, you cannot use the supermarket kind, ever. Nothing is better.
Once you have the gnocchi, the ragout and the bechamel sauce prepare your pans. Put a spoonful of bechamel sauce on the bottom, then gnocchi with ragout, a lot of buffalo mozzarella and a nice sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Put in the oven at 180°C until it makes a crust and serve it to the table.
Bucatini pasta with turnip greens, crunchy crumbs and buffalo mozzarella
A revisited classic. Sauté the turnip greens with oil, garlic and chili in a pan. They have to get softer, not overcooked.
In another pan, put the oil, an anchovy fillet if you like, and add some small bread cubes. When it gets crunchy, put it on a plate: if you leave it in the pan, it will continue to absorb oil.
Cook the pasta and drain it 2 minutes earlier and finish cooking it in the pan with the turnips greens and a ladle of cooking water. Stir well, serve it and complete it with the bread cubes and buffalo mozzarella.
Main courses, between the classic and the creative
Two different main courses, one more homemade, which will surely appeal to children, the other more elaborate, perfect for a candlelight dinner.
Make the classic dough for meatballs, with veal, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic and parsley, feel free to add some grated lemon zest if you like.
Make a classic meatball, but inside insert a cube of buffalo mozzarella, it’s better if you first pass it on kitchen paper to remove excess moisture.
Cook them in a pan or in the oven until golden brown. You can serve them as they are or prepare a sauce with tomato and basil.
Lasagna with buffalo mozzarella and raw shrimp on zucchini cream
Very few ingredients, almost no preparation. I don’t need to tell you that you have to choose the best raw materials, right?
Let’s start with zucchini cream. Clean the zucchini, boil them for 10 minutes, cool them in ice water and put them in a mixer with salt, oil and toasted pine nuts.
Shell and clean the prawns, cut the mozzarella into slices and we are ready to serve. First layer ofsauce, one of shrimp, one of mozzarella,one of shrimp, one of mozzarella. To garnish, a round of oil and some toasted pine nuts to add a bit of crunchiness.
Buffalo mozzarella is a simply amazing product. Good on its own, great for endless preparations. A soft and enveloping taste, which makes everything better!