Now that’s Scamorza!
Scamorza is a cow’s milk spun cheese, belonging to the same family as mozzarella and provolone. It is similar to provolone in its pear-shaped, although it does come in smaller forms. This unique shape is achieved by tying the forms together to hang during the ripening process. In fact, the name of this cheese has somewhat morbid overtones: “scamozza” is an expression in southern Italy which means “beheaded”, it is meant here to describe the cheese’s appearance (tied in a rope bag). Scamorza is from the Campania region around Naples. It is also produced in Abruzzo and Molise. In Puglia, scamorza is made from sheep-milk. Scamorza is similar to mozzarella, but scamorza cheese is a bit firmer and it has more flavor so it is getting a lot of attention worldwide.
Scamorza is made by stretching and molding curd that has been ripened for about 24 hours. The future cheese is then cooled in cold water and put in a brine bath for a period that varies according to the weight of the individual cheese. The end result is drier than Mozzarella, but is equally as smooth and shiny in texture.
Scamorza is generally eaten fresh or smoked, with the latter (Scamorzi Affumicate), having a lovely gold outer layer which makes an excellent table cheese that is also great when used in cooking. All forms are best eaten no more than 3 days after production.
Scamorze allo spiedo is a very old dish in which small scamorza cheeses are threaded on spits which revolve over a wood fire. During the cooking process, the cheese takes on an amber color and the interior becomes creamy and buttery.
This is a wonderful starter. It is incredibly easy to prepare and the WOW-factor is guaranteed!
There’s plain and smoked scamorza cheese and both have a nice texture that only gets better when melted. If you’re planning to grill your cheese using a real grill you can use plain scamorza. If you’re using an electric grill or a pan, go for the smoked one.
2 pieces of smoked scamorza cheese (8 oz each)
About 4 or 6 slices of prosciutto crudo
Cut the cheese in half, lengthwise. If you’re using your panini grill to make this dish, you can spray the grill with a little oil and then turn the grill on. When the grill is ready, set the cheese halves cut-side up. Put some prosciutto on top of each half. Grill for about 1 or 2 minutes, then open the panini grill and continue grilling until a nice crust forms on the bottom side (about 5 minutes). Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and toasted ciabatta bread.