The key etiquette rules on how to serve and eat Pecorino. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.
What Pecorino etiquette is
Pecorino etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat Pecorino. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.
If you are hosting, follow Pecorino etiquette to serve it to your guests appropriately.
If you are a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.
What you should know about Pecorino
Pecorino is a type of hard cheese from Italy. There are six main varieties of Pecorino. Most of them come from the regions of Latium (Pecorino Romano), Tuscany, Abruzzo, Calabria, Basilicata, Sardinia, and Sicily.
Pecorino is made from sheep’s milk. It is hard and crumbly in texture. The color and flavor mostly depend on the aging time. Longer aging means often stronger taste and a more complex aroma.
Etiquette tips to serve and eat Pecorino
1) How to store Pecorino
Store Pecorino in the fridge. Unopened, it can last for 4 to 6 months.
After opening it, wrap it in plastic or in aluminum foil. Keep any surface of the cheese protected from the air. Ideally, place the cheese in a sealed container too. Properly stored, Pecorino can last for up to 1 or 2 months.
In the freezer, Pecorino can last for up to a year. However, freezing affects the taste and texture of the cheese. Thus, freeze it only if you plan to use it for cooking.
Store dishes with cooked Pecorino in the fridge. They can last for up to 3 to 5 days.
2) How to clean Pecorino
You do not need to wash Pecorino.
If you notice mold on its surface, slice it and discard the slice that has gone bad. If you notice mold in a container with grated Pecorino, you should discard it immediately.
3) How to cook Pecorino
Pecorino is ideal for many preparations.
Add it grated on dishes, such as pasta. Pecorino is a key ingredient for pasta cacio e pepe, Gricia, carbonara, and all’amatriciana. It is ideal with risotto or soup too. Add grated Pecorino immediately before serving. Alternatively, let guests add it to their liking directly at the table.
Grated Pecorino is great in salads too.
Pecorino can enhance the flavor of many baked recipes. Such as quiches, flans, and soufflés. The cheese melts best above 150°C.
Instead of discarding the rind, you can use it to cook broths or soups.
4) How to serve & present Pecorino
Serve Pecorino in thick slices. Alternatively, you can present it in a single large piece. Do not remove the rind before serving.
Serve Pecorino at room temperature. Take it out of the fridge at least 1 or 2 hours before serving.
You can serve Pecorino as an appetizer. Or include it in a cheese course. After the meal and before the dessert. It can fit well on a cheese platter. Present it in small chunks without the rind.
If you serve it grated, present it in a small cup or dedicated container. Present it with a small serving spoon, such as a teaspoon.
5) Food and wine to pair Pecorino with
Pecorino goes well with many dishes. Pasta. Rice and risotto. Soup. Broth. It is not common on pizza.
You can add it to baked vegetables. Potatoes. Tomatoes. Asparagus. Zucchini.
It goes well with eggs or meat. You can add it to raw or cured meat. Such as carpaccio or Bresaola. It matches perfectly with Guanciale. Avoid pairings with fish or seafood.
Pecorino pairs well with jams and honey. It tastes great with a few drops of Balsamic vinegar. You can pair it with fruit too. Apples. Pears. Grapes. Figs. It goes well with nuts, such as walnuts and hazelnuts.
Avoid pairing aged Pecorino with very delicate aromas and flavors.
6) How to eat Pecorino
The rind is edible, but it is often too hard to eat. It is best to discard it. Use a knife to remove it and leave it on the side of your dish.
Break small bite-sized chunks of Pecorino with a knife. Then, bring them to your mouth with your fingers, one at a time. It is best to avoid using a fork, as its texture is often grainy and very crumbly.
When Pecorino is served grated, you can add it to your dish. Use a serving spoon or fork.
Do not add more than 1 or 2 spoons. Adding cheese in a large quantity can be rude. Some hosts may think that you are adding cheese because you are disappointed with the taste – or lack of taste – of the dish.
Pecorino etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst Pecorino etiquette mistakes.
- 9/10. Serving spoiled Pecorino.
- 6/10. Eating it with cutlery.
- 5/10. Pairing it with too delicate flavors.
- 3/10. Adding a large quantity of grated cheese to a dish.
Additional information for properly serving Pecorino
How many calories per serving?
Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.
Pecorino contains 397 calories per 100 grams. One teaspoon is usually 5 grams and contains 20 calories. An average chunk is around 20 grams and contains 80 calories.
How to buy the best Pecorino
A crucial factor in Pecorino etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.
Season and availability
Pecorino is available all year round.
Choose the best
The best Pecorino must come from Italy. All the six main Italian varieties must have their own DOP (denominazione di origine protetta) seal on the packaging. The seal guarantees that the cheese was made in Italy respecting all the needed quality requirements.
Aged varieties, or stagionato, are harder and crumbly in texture, with a richer and more complex aroma. Younger varieties, semi-stagionato or fresco, have a softer texture and a milder taste.
Alternatives to Pecorino
What is the difference between Pecorino and Pecorino Romano?
Romano is one of the most famous varieties of Pecorino cheese. Romano comes from Latium, the region of Rome. Hence, the name “Romano”.
What is the difference between Pecorino and Parmigiano Reggiano?
Italians often consider Pecorino as a cheaper alternative to the expensive Parmigiano. Thus, they make similar use of these two kinds of cheese.
The main difference is the milk. Pecorino is made from sheep’s milk. While Parmigiano is made from cow’s milk.