Nearly a 1000 years ago, the Cistercian monks from the fertile Po Valley, in North of Italy, developed an original recipe to use the excess milk produced in the area. It is thought to have been
first made in the Abbey of Chiaravalle in 1135. Due to its grainy structure, so different from all other cheeses, it was given the name “GRANA”.
Today the production method has hardly changed. Strict dairy farming practices, including a special cattle diet, results in a milk of unique flavour and nutritional value. Only raw partially skimmed milk from the Grana Padano production area can be used. After natural separation of the cream, the milk is poured into traditional copper vats and then processed: a natural whey starter, deriving from the previous day cheese-making, is added along with pure calf rennet. Once the coagulation has occurred, the curd is chopped into small grains by the aid of a manual instrument called “spino”. Heating to 53°C follows and then, after a resting period of around an hour, the twin fresh wheels of cheese are collected, wrapped in linen cloths and placed into moulds, where they receive the initial mark of origin: small lozenges with alternatively “Grana” and “Padano” written inside and all the other signs appearing on the crust except for the firebrand.
Finally, before the ageing process begins, the wheels are soaked in brine for around 23 days. The ageing process lasts for a minimum of 9 to over 24 months. At 9 months, each wheel is
carefully tested for appearance, aroma and texture. This important step is carried out exclusively by the impartial expertise of the Consorzio Tutela Grana Padano (Protection Consortium) technicians. Only the best wheels receive the fire-branded logo officially grading them GRANA PADANO PDO cheese. This Protection Consortium, founded in 1954 and encompassing all the producers , not only is responsible for the quality of each wheel, but also promotes and protects the name Grana Padano around the world, ensuring the consumers that whenever they buy a piece, they are dealing with a genuine Grana Padano PDO cheese. Rich in nutrients and very digestible, it is an excellent and healthy choice for the whole family. Grana Padano possesses unique nutritional features such as quality proteins, vitamins, minerals salts and especially calcium. Grana Padano is the best selling PDO cheese in the world.
Grana Padano Risotto with Lemon, Dill and Peas This inexpensive family favourite is ideal for comforting midweek meals.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 300 g (10oz) arborio or carnaroli rice
• 1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
• 150 ml (1/4 pint) Italian dry white wine
• 1 litre (1 _ pint) hot vegetable or chicken stock
• Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
• 75g (3oz) Grana Padano cheese, finely grated
• 100 g (4oz) frozen petit pois or garden peas
• Small bunch of dill, chervil or parsley, chopped
• Shavings of Grana Padano cheese
1. In a very large frying pan or saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the rice and sauté gently until it looks translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spring onions and cook for 2 more minutes.
2. Add the wine to the rice and cook gently until it has been absorbed, stirring frequently, then add about one quarter of the stock with the lemon zest. Stir and simmer gently, add further stock to the rice as needed, to keep it moist. Stir from time to time until it is tender – it will take about 20 – 25 minutes to cook.
3. Add the Grana Padano cheese and petit pois or garden peas. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir through most of the dill, chervil or parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir well.
4. Serve, garnished with the rest of the herbs and shavings of Grana Padano cheese.
For easy entertaining, this could be topped with roasted cod, sea bass or chicken breasts.