Produced by cheesemaker Nunzio Marcelli in the Abruzzo region of Italy, just East of Rome, Smoked Ricotta Peperoncino is a smoked, aged ricotta made from the whey of raw sheep’s milk and then coated in Abruzzo chili peppers (peperoncino).
The milk is sourced from Sopravvissana sheep, a rare breed native to Abruzzo, that are renowned for giving limited quantities of very high yielding (fat) milk. The sheep graze the hills surrounding the village where the cheese is made.
Marcelli first uses the milk to make Pecorino, preserving the whey from production for his ricotta cheeses, including the Smoked Ricotta Peperoncino.
They whey is heated to 176˚F (80˚C) which causes any residual proteins to float to the surface. They are then scooped up and gently transferred to molds where they are allowed to drain naturally for several hours.
After unmolding, dry salting and drying, the cheeses are cold-smoked for twelver hours using juniper wood. They are then coated in the peperoncino before being transferred to aging caves and allowed to mature for between two to three months.
Flavors are spicy, sweet and smoky with rich notes of cream.