Sunday, February 15, 2009

Toasted bread with pecorino and honey

Sharp pecorino sardo and sweet honey complement each other in this super-tasty toast - a perfect snack for a cold, wet afternoon.

I got the idea of pairing pecorino with honey from a friend of mine who in turn got it from a friend of his, who said the combination was incredible. Unfortunately, this friend couldn't remember what kind of pecorino to use and so I had to do some experimenting to figure out which one went best.

There are 4 main types of pecorino that I'm aware of (pecora, by the way, means 'sheep' in Italian and unsurprisingly, pecorino is made from ewe's milk, which is higher in fat than cow's milk, thus giving the cheese a delightfully creamy texture when it's soft, and a rich flavor both when it's soft and fresh and when it's aged and hard). The two most common types of pecorino are Pecorino Romano, which is well-aged, sharp, and generally used in a manner similar to parmesan (grated over things, etc.); and Pecorino Toscano, which is usually not aged a very long time and is much softer and sweeter than Pecorino Romano. This kind of pecorino works well in sandwiches.

Pecorino Sardo

The other two types are Pecorino Siciliano and Pecorino Sardo. I have never tried the Pecorino Siciliano, but the Pecorino Sardo is similar to Pecorino Romano - just a bit less sharp - and it seems to work the best for this recipe. The Pecorino Romano tends to be too hard and burns easily, while the Pecorino Toscano is not as sharp and so doesn't complement the honey as nicely. The addition of the bread was my own idea, because what dish cannot be improved by good bread?

If you have a toaster oven, just use that, but if you are without one, you can toast the bread under the broiler of your oven. Turn the heat up very high and be sure not to let the bread sit in there too long - about a minute is all you need; any more time and it will burn.

Not-too-thick slices of good crusty bread. This is a great use for bread that's about to go stale and won't work for sandwiches anymore.
Pecorino sardo

Turn the broiler on your oven to high, or alternatively, preheat your toaster oven. Place some aluminum foil on a baking sheet/toaster tray and place the bread on it. Cut the pecorino into thin slices and cover the bread with the pecorino.

Put the bread into the oven or toaster oven and let cook about a minute. Do not overcook or you will get burnt toast and wasted pecorino!

Remove from oven and spread honey evenly over the toast. Eat right away!

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