Ragusano Dop is an ancient stretched cow cheese produced in the typical farms in the province of Ragusa, in the most important island of Southern Italy, Sicily.
The original name is Caciocavallo Ragusano, and it probably derives from the fact that the cheese was put to dry across a wooden beam, like it was riding a horse (cavallo means horse). It is one of Sicily’s most ancient cheese varieties, as there are evidence dating back to 1515 about the tax exemptions which Charles V grated to the cheese.
Cow milk is transformed in cheese following an ancient procedure passed down from generation to generation and using traditional wooden tools. An important phase of production is still done by hand: the cheese maker removes air bubbled and stretches from the paste which will become cheese. After this process, the cheese is put to rest for a day in a bowl called mastredda which will shape it like a parallelepiped.
It is aged for a time between four months and a year and can be eaten by itself or grated according to its aging stage. It features an aromatic taste ranging from sweet to piquant according to its age.
It is an important part of typical Sicilian dishes such as Scacce Ragusane, a flat bread stuffed with Ragusano DOP, fried eggplants and tomatoes. It is nicely coupled whit white wines if young, and reds if it is aged.