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Grilled Trevigiano with Smoked Scamorza

Warmer temperatures invariably seduce us towards the outdoors. Whether your plans for a day's outing bring you to the ocean, lake, park, or even your own backyard, the experts at The Culinary Institute of America suggest bringing along the cheese.

CIA Associate Professor John Fischer explains how to thoughtfully plan a picnic without refrigeration by bringing foods and wines that can travel in your cooler without adding ice. For a simple sumptuous picnic, he suggests packing a selection of cheeses, olives, olive oil, crackers, a fresh French Baguette, and a light-bodied red wine. Chill the wine overnight, then put it in the cooler with your other items to keep the food cool. Once you arrive at your destination, take out the food so it can warm to room temperature. Leave the wine to remain cool until you are ready to pour.

When selecting the cheeses, consider the range of styles and flavors that your family and friends enjoy. For a complete understanding about the world of cheese, Mr. Fischer has devised a way to pick your pleasure by organizing his new book, Cheese: Identification, Classification, and Utilization (2011, Cengage), according to the flavor profiles of cheese. He calls this cheese fingerprint, MORPA.

"MORPA stands for Milk, Origin, Rind, Paste, and Aging, all of which are considered the most basic information you need to understand a particular cheese," he says. "By taking all of these factors into consideration, you can identify a distinct flavor."

For instance, Mr. Fischer suggests choosing one cheese from each of the five chapters such as fresh goat cheese, mild aged Camembert and Spanish Garrotxa, complex and rich Alpine-style cow's milk, and strong and stinky Pont L'Évêque for a well-rounded mix of flavors sure to please your guests.

The following recipe is from Cheese: Identification, Classification, and Utilization.

"I was first introduced to this dish while working for Mark Strausman at Campagna Restaurant in Manhattan," says Mr. Fischer. "It was largely from Mark that I learned how incredibly thrifty Italians can be regarding the number of ingredients in a dish, while still creating astonishing results. This dish does exactly that, yielding a range of flavors, textures, and colors using only two main ingredients."

CIA's Grilled Trevigiano with Smoked Scamorza recipe

Ingredients

4 to 8 appetizer portions

  • 2 large or 4 small heads trevigiano (substitute radicchio if not available)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 8 ounces smoked scamorza (substitute smoked mozzarella if not available)

Directions

  1. Preheat the grill and the broiler.
  2. Remove the outer leaves of trevigiano if wilted. Cut small heads in half and larger heads in quarters. Leave the stems intact to hold pieces together while grilling. Drizzle all sides sparsely with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Slice scamorza lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  4. Grill trevigiano pieces until the edges are slightly burnt, and the inner leaves begin to look tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from grill and put on a sizzle platter or broiler pan, cut side facing up.
  5. Arrange the cheese slices over the trevigiano pieces. The cheese does not need to completely cover the trevigiano. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and lightly browned on top, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Serve as is, or put a few drops of balsamic vinegar and good olive oil on the plate as a functional garnish.
Nutrition analysis per 4-ounce serving:  150 calories, 7g protein, 4g carbohydrate, 12g fat, 270mg sodium, 20mg cholesterol, less than 1g fiber.

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