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Alternative to parmesan cheese? (split from Ontario board)

Paulustrious Apr 3, 2009 10:05 AM

Sorry to the OP for hijacking the thread...

We go through bucketloads of parmesan - mife wife is Italian and seems to use in place of salt.

Is there another cheese people would recommend grated on pasta, artichokes, frittata,etc. that is similar to parmesan.

Extra matured (extra belegen) or old (oude) Gouda have beautiful flavours and similar textures, but the taste is different.

  1. e
    EdwardAdams Apr 4, 2009 06:01 AM

    Here is a concise roundup of grating cheeses stolen from the Whole Foods website.

    * Parmigiano Reggiano (Italy): a creamy but grainy winner with a warm, golden sheen and a flavor that’s spicy, fruity and full all at once
    * Pecorino Romano (Italy): a sharp and salty part-skim sheep’s milk cheese
    * Grana Padano (Italy): an all-purpose grating and cooking cheese with rich, sharp flavor
    * Crottin Poivre (France): a small, black-rinded French wheel studded with peppercorns
    * Sbrinz (Switzerland): a nutty, slightly sweet cheese that’s particularly yummy with vegetables
    * Argentine Parmesan (Argentina): a salty (and worthy) parmesan imitation
    * Sonoma Dry Jack (US): a piquant and spicy stateside treasure
    * Aged Gouda (Holland): a well-rounded, richly spicy cheese
    * OK, siManchego (Spain): a sheep’s milk cheese with smooth, creamy flavor

    1. porker Apr 4, 2009 05:44 AM

      We tried piave a few years ago and like it very much. It is a hard cheese, like parmesan. Not exactly the same flavor, but similar and equally as good, IMO. Also considerably cheaper which is a bonus.
      I think there are two types, a 'regular' piave which has bluish labelling, and a yellow-orange labelling which is aged. We prefer the blue.
      I've only seen it sold in wedges cut from a wheel.
      Looks like this http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/shop/images/piave%20vecchio.jpg

      Oh, the yellow looks like this http://images.google.ca/imgres?imgurl...

      7 Replies
      1. re: porker
        porker Apr 4, 2009 06:06 AM

        By the other posts as well as speaking to Italian friends, piave certainly seems to be the dark horse. Give it a try, you'll be surprised.

        1. re: porker
          kattyeyes Apr 4, 2009 08:46 AM

          We love piave, too! Good call.

          1. re: porker
            s
            soupkitten Apr 9, 2009 05:06 PM

            great suggestion! piave rocks.

          2. re: porker
            alwayscooking Apr 4, 2009 09:19 AM

            The yellow piave has a nuttier flavor than parm and is a beautiful cheese for pasta or just eating alone. For the ultimate parm, try Parmigiano Reggiano delle Vacche Rosse made from the traditional red cows of Italy (replaced after WWII by higher milk producing cows).

            1. re: alwayscooking
              porker Apr 4, 2009 10:01 AM

              I will keep the Vacche Rosse in mind next time out.
              I just learned, while looking for the picture of the cheese (the site I mentioned for yellow), is that piave is made from two milkings; one from the evening and one from the morning.
              Interesting.

              1. re: porker
                jayt90 Apr 4, 2009 02:57 PM

                Apparently one of the milkings is skimmed. I don't know what the difference might be between morning and evening milk, but fine cheesemakers do. Here is photo of Morbier, from Jura, with two distict layers separating morning from evening http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia...

                1. re: jayt90
                  Paulustrious Apr 4, 2009 04:58 PM

                  Takes me back to when I was two months old. I always preferred breakfast.

          3. e
            EdwardAdams Apr 4, 2009 05:39 AM

            If cost is the factor, try the Argentine made Parmesan. It is not quite as good as the Reggiano, but at one third the price, it is a reasonable approximation.

            1. b
              Bobfrmia Apr 3, 2009 08:19 PM

              Cojita. Sometimes refered to as Mexican Parmesan, I like it a little better.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Bobfrmia
                m
                markabauman Apr 4, 2009 05:09 AM

                Grana Padana

                1. re: markabauman
                  JoanN Apr 4, 2009 05:49 AM

                  Grana Padano is my go-to substitute as well. It's somewhat milder and considerably less expensive than Parmesan.

                2. re: Bobfrmia
                  a
                  adamshoe Apr 4, 2009 05:49 PM

                  I thinks it's "cotija"...but I'm lysdexic,too. adam

                3. Emmmily Apr 3, 2009 08:06 PM

                  Pecorino romano. Very similar, but made from sheep's milk, somewhat sharper flavor. Locatelli's my favorite brand.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Emmmily
                    MMRuth Apr 4, 2009 05:17 AM

                    I prefer an aged Pecorino Sardo to romano - I think it has less of a bite than the romano (which I prefer).

                    1. re: Emmmily
                      kattyeyes Apr 4, 2009 08:45 AM

                      We almost always use pecorino romano, too. But lately, I've been using a four-cheese blend from BelGioioso that's pretty tasty--pecorino, parmesan, asiago and sharp provolone. I pick it up at the discount supermarket for $2.50 or so a tub. Nice!

                      Off-topic, but still a cheese-worthy mention: BelGioioso's burrata is delicious!
                      http://www.belgioioso.com/Burrata.htm

                    2. l
                      Lucia Apr 3, 2009 08:01 PM

                      I"ve used pecorino as a substitute for cooking.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Lucia
                        Paulustrious Apr 4, 2009 05:32 AM

                        I've been following up on all the suggestions. We've had pecorino before, but using three degrees of information separation google led me to:

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casu_marzu .

                        1. re: Paulustrious
                          MMRuth Apr 4, 2009 05:36 AM

                          That stuff looks awfully frightening to me - I've seen photos in my Sardinian cookbook. I think Sardinians used to sneak it into the U.S., but I don't think it is available in stores, etc. If you can, try some Pecorino Sardo - the aged one.

                      2. u
                        umbushi plum Apr 3, 2009 06:26 PM

                        in poor regions of Italy before they could afford dairy, people use to fry stale breadcrumbs in olive oil and sprinkle it on pasta and meat "poor mans" parmesan my nonna calls it ;-)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: umbushi plum
                          Paulustrious Apr 4, 2009 05:05 AM

                          My outlaw family (Sicilian) still do that today in fennel and sardine pasta. I'm going to have to google this....Pasta con sarde e finocchio.

                          1. re: Paulustrious
                            u
                            umbushi plum Apr 4, 2009 03:11 PM

                            ha, my nonna still lives in a small town outside of Naples and she makes a mean fennel and sardine pasta with poor man parmesan to, and she always puts it on top of her cauliflower pasta mmmmm

                        2. t
                          tuttebene Apr 3, 2009 06:14 PM

                          You may want to try a greek cheese Mizithra, made from sheep's milk (I think) or similar to that would be an Italian Ricotta Salata. Very salty, nice texture.

                          1. s
                            soupkitten Apr 3, 2009 05:55 PM

                            asiago would be the knee-jerk response

                            though i like a drier local gouda just as well.

                            your local cheesemonger might know about lots of reasonably priced, interesting grating cheeses, heck i can't keep up with all the great small-creamery stuff coming out.

                            1. jayt90 Apr 3, 2009 10:40 AM

                              Reggiano has similar qualities, a bit sharper, and made from sheep's milk rather than Holstein. Sometimes I can get it at Costco but they always have Parmigiano, both are in the $26/kg range. I have also liked 6 yr old Balderson cheddar for grating, and they sell it for $21/kg.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jayt90
                                t
                                trouttr Apr 3, 2009 06:36 PM

                                i think that regianno is a type of parmesan isn't it

                                1. re: trouttr
                                  c
                                  caviar_and_chitlins Apr 4, 2009 05:28 PM

                                  yes, Reggiano is Parmesean Reggiano- part skim, unpasteurized cow's milk.

                                  Pecorino Romano is sheep's milk.

                                  Try Grana Padano- made the same way that Parm is, in italy, but "legally" allowed to be made by more producers in a larger area that Parm Reggiano, so, cheaper. And the Costco rec. is a good one. You'll usually have to buy at least 3/4 pound at a time, but at a much better rate than a grocery or specialty store.

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