Pecorino cheese (or simply Pecorino) is the name for a few kinds of Italian cheeses made of sheep milk. The word pecora, from which the name derives, means sheep. Most of these cheeses are aged for some time. They taste rather salty.
Pecorino Romano is probably the best known outside Italy, especially in the United States. The cheese has been exported to the United States since the 19th century. Most Pecorino Romano is produced on the island of Sardinia, though its production is also allowed in Lazio and in the Tuscan Province of Grosseto.
Pecorino Sardo also comes from Sardinia. It is milder. Pecorino Toscano is from Tuscany, Pecorino Siciliano (or Picurinu Sicilianu in Sicilian) from Sicily and Pecorino di Filiano from Basilicata. All come in a variety of styles depending on how long they have been matured. The more matured cheeses, referred to as stagionato, are harder and have a stronger flavour. Sometimes, the cheeses are made with spices. In Sardinia, the larvae of the cheese fly are intentionally introduced into Pecorino Sardo to produce a local delicacy called casu marzu.
Pecorino Romano is most often used on pasta dishes, like the better-known Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan). Its distinctive strong, very salty flavour means that it is preferred for some pasta dishes with highly-flavoured sauces, especially those of Roman origin, such as pasta all'amatriciana.
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- Export statistics from the producers’ consortium