Updated: Jun 20, 2022
Nigella uses parmesan but I prefer pecorino.
I've been captivated by the charm of pecorino ever since my trip to Pienza, an ancient Renaissance city a few miles from the wines of Montepulciano. Pienza is the capital of Tuscan pecorino, a sheep’s milk cheese (cacio di pecorino) that is one of the most prized and favored cheeses of the Val d’Orcia. Known for its inviting and mild flavor, even when aged, Pecorino Toscano is the Tuscan relative of the more well-known Romano which because of its stronger flavor is preferred for some pasta dishes with highly flavored sauces.
Pecorino Toscano thrives under the Tuscan sun surrounded and influenced by vineyards, olive orchards and the clay soil of the Crete Senesi. The characteristic flavors and aromas of the grass, herbs and wildflowers (wormwood, meadow salsify, juniper, broom, burnet) on which the sheep graze create a taste of Tuscany that is incomparable.
Pecorino shortbread is a crumbly, delicate, savory cookie, delicious eaten on its own or served as part of charcuterie board. A nice aperitivo accompaniment with a glass of Chianti, Sangiovese or Prosecco to bring Italy home.
5 ½ oz (160 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
5 oz (140 g) aged Tuscan Pecorino (or Pecorino Romano) cheese, finely grated
8 ¾ oz (250 g) all purpose flour, sifted
Put all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse together until a golden dough begins to form a smooth ball. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for about 30 seconds until smooth, then divide into two. Take the first half of the dough and roll into a cylinder1¼ in diameter. Wrap the cylinder of dough in a piece of cling film, twisting the cling film at the ends and put the roll in the fridge, then proceed in the same way with the remaining half of the dough. Let the dough rest in the fridge for about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F .Remove dough from fridge and cut the cylinders into 1/2 inch rounds.
Arrange evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges are just beginning to turn a pale gold. Remove from the oven. Cool on a wire rack and serve or store in an airtight container. Will keep up to 5 days.
Make about 30 cookies.