Provolone may be the ultimate feel-good cheese – it just makes the world little bit better. Its clean, buttery, slightly smoky flavor makes other ingredients up their game. It gets along with anything and everything on a charcuterie plate. And it sure makes everybody at the table, or the picnic feel great.
This artisan cheese got its start in southern Italy, where it's still produced with a pulled-curd technique and cured in shapes that resemble bottles, pears, or sausages. Here in Wisconsin, our cheesemakers have taken those Italian traditions one step further to produce provolone that's charming the socks off cheese lovers everywhere. And all the awards they are winning sure makes us feel great. See? Provolone does it again.
Provolone takes to pizza, pasta, and veal parmigiana like red sauce on a white dress shirt. Provolone with cured olives, soppressata, dried apricots, a fig spread, and roasted bruschetta is a charcuterie recipe that will wow any crowd. Provolone packs more flavor into any sausage frittata. And a grilled eggplant panini with provolone and basil aioli? Mamma mia, that's a sandwich.
At your wine and cheese party, serve big Italian reds like chianti classico and sangiovese with your provolone. For a great beer and cheese pairing, we recommend pilsners, lagers, and pale ales. But provolone is easy – whatever you have on hand will be fine.
Provolone is an Italian-style cheese made with cow's milk using a pulled-curd technique called pasta filata, where the cheesemakers knead and stretch the curd while it is still warm. The result is a semi-hard cheese with an even texture. Provolone traditionally comes in two variants: provolone dolce is aged for 2 to 3 months for a sweet, milder flavor, whereas provolone piccante is aged four months or longer for a sharper taste. Provolone comes in a variety of shapes – it may be shaped like a sausage, a bottle, or a large pear with a round knob on top for hanging.
Provolone is made by an artisan cheese maker who uses a pulled-curd technique. After introducing rennet to form milk curd, the curd is cut and separated twice and then drained of excess liquid. Skilled cheesemakers then shape the uncured cheese into tightly woven rounds, ridding the cheese of any air bubbles to produce an even texture. After the cheese is brined and cooled, it is shaped and hung with strings to age for two months or more.
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We get it: you wouldn't necessarily peg Wisconsin as the pinnacle of provolone. What's a Midwest American Dairyland got to do with Italian cheesemaking artistry?
Plenty. Turns out that in the 1800s many Italian cheesemakers made their way to the rolling hills of Wisconsin where they saw a lot to like, cheese-wise. Since that time, we've basically turned Wisconsin into the State of Cheese, with 9 of every 10 drops of milk our cows produce ending up in our cheesemaking cauldrons. Today, our 1,200 cheesemakers produce more than 600 varieties of cheese – more than anywhere else in the world. And we've got the only Master Cheesemaker program in the world apart from the one in Switzerland. It's no wonder we've won more awards for our cheese than any other state or country on the planet.
What does that mean for provolone? Well, it means when you've got Wisconsin provolone at the party, in the kitchen or on your plate, you're in the presence of some of the best cheese in the world – making the world seem a little bit brighter.
Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?
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In Wisconsin, we make more flavors, varieties, and styles of cheese than anywhere else in the world. We believe in tradition, producing everything from Italian classics, like parmesan and ricotta, to swiss cheese and cheddar varieties. But every Wisconsin cheesemaker is an innovator as well, which is why we have so many Wisconsin originals, like colby and muenster. Whether it’s a grilled cheese sandwich, potatoes au gratin, or a charcuterie board, Wisconsin cheese makes every dish and recipe tastier.