Of all the Roman culinary traditions, this is the combination that I love the most … Pecorino, on its own, is one of my "weakness" (in general I have a weakness for cheese, and I believe in this rule "the more a cheese stinks and more it's good".. I don't know whether this rule has already an "inventor", but otherwise we could easily call it "Robert theorem". And no, I did NOT change sex, Robert is only my heavy surname): in fact no one should ever, ever, ever leave me alone with cheese, because I shouldn't be liable for my actions!
Until now we discussed cheeses in general … but sheep or goat ones, you may say?! They should come to me, too, 'cause with me they will always find an open door! I love these cheeses, whether fresh or matured, for their flavor intensity, and they are also better for those who have cholesterol problems, always without any exaggeration … and there's the rub! How can you live behind a poor cheese?! It's cruel!
And among all the sheep and goat cheeses, I especially love Pecorino, an Italian glory, which is common to Lazio, Basilicata, Tuscany, Sardinia, Sicily, Campania, Abruzzo, Umbria (I have happy memories of Umbrian Pecorino) and Marche! Pecorino, which I prefer well-seasoned, it's absolutely one of my favorite cheeses, for its strong taste, his innate freshness, its salt intake, its texture, its fragrance…
Pecorino, I love you, and there's nothing I can do about it!
So, to show Pecorino all my love and deep respect I have for it and for its wedding with pepper (have you ever taste a nice dish of Pecorino and pepper spaghetti?! Simply delicious!), I decided to go mad, shift my ground and play with this combination in a preparation that has little or nothing to do with Italy: muffins!
And the result is a soft and fragrant snack or, for the greedy ones, a "bread roll" to garnish, suitable for appetizers or finger food, which embodies the Roman tradition (I used Roman Pecorino and its combination with pepper) and a drizzle of innovation … this small concentration of flavors will win you over?
PECORINO AND BLACK PEPPER MUFFINS
Ingredients (12 muffins)
* 250 g all purpose flour
* 140 g grated Pecorino Romano
* 15 g baking powder
* a pinch of salt (optional, 'cause Pecorino Romano is very salty)
* black pepper
* 250 g milk
* 60 g melted unsalted butter, slightly cooled (you can use 50 g of extra-virgin olive oil, instead)
* 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 356° F (180° C). Take two bowls, a smaller one and a larger one. In the small one mix together liquid ingredients (milk, butter and eggs); in that bigger one mix the dry ingredients (flour, pecorino, baking powder, salt and pepper). Now pour the liquid ingredients into dry ones and stir vigorously and briefly (the muffins mixture should be lumpy rather than smooth).
Once you have your mixture, put paper (or silicon) cups into the muffin pan and fill them to 2/3 (I always fill them a little bit more.. In Piedmont we call this measure "cicinin", that is just a little little bit more, so that muffins come a bit more chubby), then bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and pass the "toothpick test".
Et voilà… the final result!
Pecorino, I LOVE YOU this way… and you?!