Grainy truth

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am


It wouldn't be surprising if grana padano had an inferiority complex. The denominazione di origine protetta cheese is made in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy - as is the better-known parmigiano-reggiano (parmesan), although by a larger number of producers in a greater number of provinces. The production method of both cheeses is similar: milk from nighttime milking (which is partially skimmed) and morning milking are mixed together, then whey and rennet are added; when the milk coagulates, the curds are broken into smaller pieces then cooked, moulded, and salted with a natural brine before being aged in large wheels for between nine months (for the basic cheese) and more than 20 months for the riserva (parmesan is aged from a year to up to 30 months). The cheese is checked periodically during the ageing process and marks are pressed on the exterior to show that it was made within the protected region and to guarantee the quality. The flavour develops with age, with young grana padano being milder and smoother. As it matures, it takes on the firm, grainy texture that gives it its name.

Grana padano is considered by many to be inferior, and it's much cheaper than parmesan.

The cost can be attributed to the fact that much more of it is produced. Rather than saying it's inferior, it's nicer to say it's different. Grana padano, even when it's aged, is milder and less sharp than parmesan. While both are good for grating and mixing with other ingredients, grana padano should be used when you want a more subtle taste. A large wedge of it is delicious when used as one of the hard cheeses on a cheese board.