provolone

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Pronunciation: [proh-voh-LOH-nee vahl-pah-DAH-nah]

Although originally from southern Italy's Basilicata region, this cow's-milk cheese is now also made in the Valpadana (the Po Valley) of northern Italy and labeled Provolone Valpadana. Provolone has a firm texture and a mild, tangy flavor. It has a pale- to golden-yellow rind and comes in various forms, though the squat pear shape is most recognizable. Most provolone, called dolce (mild), is aged for two to three months and has a pale-yellow color and delicate flavor. However, some, called piccante (strong), are aged six months to a year or more. As the cheese ripens, the color becomes a richer yellow and the flavor more pronounced. Both styles are sometimes smoked, which produces brownish-golden rinds and smoky flavors. Provolone is an excellent cooking cheese and aged versions can be used for grating. Provolone is also now manufactured in the United States.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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