Fried Caciocavallo Cheese
I look forward to Caciocavallo cheese every time we visit Sicily for one of our Foodie Adventures. Our home base in Sicily is near the southern town of Ragusa, where “Caciocavallo Ragusano” is produced. Ragusano (as it is officially known today, Caciocavallo is it’s historical name) is a hard cheese made from cow’s milk (Modicana breed) and is sold in different stages of aging from fresh and young (less than 2 months) to aged (6-8 months) when it develops a deeper piquant flavor. Caciocavallo is sold in large rectangular blocks in Sicily and is very difficult to source in the states.
Halloumi (from Cyprus) or Mexican Frying Cheese (Queso Fresco) are 2 good alternatives that have a higher “melting point” are more readily available. Last winter I made some Halloumi cheese from local sheep and cow’s milk and it turned out amazing. I fried it up just like the Caciocavallo Ragusano and served it with the Tomato Jam.
Tomato Jam with it’s sweet, sour and spicy qualities is the perfect accompaniment to the rich-fried cheese. The tomatoes are first roasted to intensify the flavors and added to the sugar in a small saucepan. The mixture is cooked for a quick 8 minutes, lemon and chilies are added and the sauce is cooled and allowed to thicken.
Fried Caciocavallo CheeseCourse: AppetizersCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
1 pound Caciocavallo cheese (substitute Halloumi or Mexican Frying cheese, Queso Fresco)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
black pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon honey
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Tomato Jam (recipe below)
- Tomato Jam
2 pounds plum tomatoes
2 cups granulated sugar
3 lemons, zest from one and juice from all
1 hot chile (habanero is my preferred pepper), or to taste
pinch of salt
- Cut the cheese into thick (1/2-inch) slices.
- Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, carefully lay in the slices of cheese. Sprinkle in the sliced garlic and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and let it cook for 1 minute or until it turns golden brown. Turn the cheese carefully with a fish spatula and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle the cheese with the oregano and black pepper.
- Transfer the cheese to a serving plate and return the pan to the heat. Add the honey to the pan, stirring for 30 seconds and add the vinegar. Cook for another minute to reduce, stirring. Pour the sauce over the cheese.
- Serve the fried cheese with a spoon of the tomato jam and warm bread.
- Tomato Jam
- Core the tomatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for 1 hour.
- Cool the tomatoes slightly and place them in a medium-sized saucepan, slipping off the skins as they enter the pan. Discard the skins.
- Add the sugar to the tomatoes and place the pan over a medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for a few hours to cool and set up.