When it comes to origin and tradition, the Italians know the value of their culinary heritage with each region celebrating the produce its rightly famous for. But how do you know you're buying the real deal?
The key is to look for the distinctive red and yellow PDO mark - Protected Designation of Origin. It’s your guarantee of authentic regional flavour, perfected over centuries and made to exacting traditional standards.
Here are two of our favourites…
Grana Padano Cheese
Developed by Benedictine monks in northern Italy nearly 1000 years ago as an ingenious way of preserving surplus milk, this savoury hard cheese is still made using traditional methods handed down over generations. Complex and fragrant, with a subtle, salty tang, its name reflects the distinctive grainy texture that develops as it matures.
The Consortium for the Protection of Grana Padano Cheese dates back to 1954 bringing together producers and maturers to protect and promote its origins around the world. It ensures that every wheel of cheese is made to traditional standards so that it can be fire-branded with the Grana Padano mark of quality.
Prosciutto di San Daniele
San Daniele del Friuli in north-eastern Italy is a perfect place for curing prosciutto: here the breezes of the Adriatic Sea meet the cooling winds from the Alps, the morainic hills curb humidity and the Tagliamento river regulates the temperature creating perfect conditions for curing prosciutto. Produced using age-old techniques in the hills surrounding San Daniele del Friuli, this silky air-dried ham is natural, Italian and unique as it is made only with selected thighs from Italian pigs, sea salt and the special microclimate of San Daniele del Friuli. The result? A uniquely sweet and fragrant ham, with a deep rosy colour and meltingly soft texture.
The Consortium of Prosciutto di San Daniele represents all producers of this unique delicacy. Set up in 1961 to protect and promote the product, the Consortium holds the PDO Production Specification, supervises its correct application and safeguards the mark.
Combine the flavours of both Prosciutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano with these autumnal recipes inspired by Dan Doherty.
Poached Egg, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Grana Padano & Rocket with Truffle Dressing - Serves 2
2 free range eggs
6 slices of Prosciutto di San Daniele
50g Grana Padano, shaved
Handful of rocket
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp truffle oil
Salt & pepper
50ml white wine vinegar
1. To make the dressing, whisk the sherry vinegar and the truffle oil together. 2. In a medium pot, bring some water to the boil with the vinegar. Poach the eggs until soft and then strain on a paper towel. 3. Dress the rocket in some of the dressing and season. 4. On a plate, build up a nest of the rocket, Prosciutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano shavings. 5. Place the egg on top, and finish with a good twist of black pepper on top and a pinch of sea salt.
Recipe provided by Dan Doherty
Figs Roasted in Sherry Vinegar Caramel, Grana Padano Crisps & Prosciutto di San Daniele - Serves 2
4 figs, halves
50ml sherry vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
100g Grana Padano, finely grated
4 slices of Prosciutto di San Daniele
10 basil leaves
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. 2. On a lined baking sheet, place the grated Grana Padano in circles 8cm diameter, making 4 in total. 3. Bake until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. 4. Lift the crisps off the tray and store aside until ready to serve. 5. In a non-stick pan, add the sugar and allow to caramelise. When bubbling, add the butter and mix together well. 6. Add the figs cut side down and cook for 1 minute in the bubbling caramel. Take off the heat and deglaze with the sherry vinegar. 7. To serve, fold the Prosciutto di San Daniele loosely on a plate. Add the fig halves, then top with a little drizzle of olive oil. 8. Scatter the basil leaves, then add the Grana Padano crisps and finish with a twist of pepper.
Recipe provided by Dan Doherty
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