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Pecorino with Black Peppercorns in Olive Oil

Pecorino con Pepe Nero sott'Olio

My friend Silvia Miniera knows her cheeses as well as her wines, and in Tuscany it is all about Pecorino Toscano, sheep's milk cheese made from ewe's milk between September and June. Pecorino Toscano is a table and grating cheese. When young it is soft and mild tasting, but as it ages it hardens and develops a drier texture and a more pronounced taste.

Pienze, a wonderful Renaissance town near the wine area of Montalcino, and home to Pope Pius 11 was partially designed by Bernardo Rossellino and is known for its Pecorino cheese, which was also a favorite of Michelangelo. Pecorino with peppercorns is also a favorite of mine and I like to give it marinated in olive oil as a gift from my kitchen. Serve it with crusty Tuscan bread and drizzle some of the oil from the cheese jar over the bread. Add a few olives and you have a simple antipasto.

Ingredients

1 pound aged Pecorino cheese with black or green peppercorns

Dried red pepper flakes

Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

Cut the cheese into small cubes and put them into 8 or 12 ounce jars. Sprinkle a few red pepper flakes in the jar. Fill the jars with the oil, making sure to cover the cheese completely. Cap and refrigerate. To use, bring the jars to room temperature. Serve the cheese with some of the oil along with bread.

The cheese will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. Be sure any remaining cheese is covered with oil before placing it back in the refrigerator.

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