Scamorza - Smoked (The Mozzarella Company)
Located in Dallas, Texas, the Mozzarella Company was founded by Paula Lambert in 1982. Paula’s passion for all things Italian was the inspiration for the Company’s creation, although when the company started in the early 80’s, it was somewhat ahead of its time in terms of being able to find a ready market for fresh Italian style mozzarella. However, persistence together with great products really paid off and The Mozzarella Company has grown steadily and expanded over the intervening decades. Today, still under the guidance of Paula, they produce a range of fresh and young, Italian style cheeses, one of which is this Smoked Scamorza.
Paula’s inspiration for this cheese comes from Italy, where she spent time at a small cheese factory near Perugia during the early and mid 1980’s. It was there that she first learned to make fresh mozzarella and subsequently Smoked Scamorza using traditional methods.
Upon arrival at the creamery, the milk is pasteurized and starter cultures and microbial rennet are added. Once the milk has coagulated, the curd is cut and gently stirred allowing the release of some of the whey and leaving smaller pieces of curd in the vat. The curds are allowed to “ripen” for a short while before hot water is poured over them and the cutting and stirring resume. This causes the curds to shrink and become firmer in texture. They are then left for several hours to mature in the whey during which time the curds naturally start to knit together. Once the curds have reached the correct pH and texture, they’re cut by hand with curd knives and hot water is once again poured over them while they are being stretched and worked in the vat using a small paddle. Each Scamorza is formed by breaking a piece weighting about 12oz off the stretched curd, shaping and squeezing it into a ball and creating the traditional top knot. Each newly formed cheese is then tossed into cold water in order to chill them down and firm-up the texture before being placed in a brine solution. The next step is to place a small noose made of raffia around the “neck” of the cheese and transfer them to an aging room where they are left to dry for a couple of days. At this stage, cheeses destined for smoking are selected.
Originally, Paula used hickory chips for smoking but, at the suggestion of a visitor who arrived at the creamery armed with a quantity of pecan shells, she switched over, much preferring the flavor. As well as imparting a true Southern type nuance, the Pecan Tree is the state tree of Texas, which makes it particularly appropriate. The Scamorzas are finally dipped in wax which helps them to retain their moisture and fairly intense smoky flavor and, if desired, effectively allows them to be aged for up to several months. However, the majority of cheeses are normally released at between 1 and 3 weeks old.
The flavor of Smoked Scamorza is gently smoked with a sweet, light caramel note and pleasing finish. The texture is elastic and delivers a satisfying mouthfeel.
Scamorza melts beautifully when heated and is equally good sliced and served on salads and sandwiches. It pairs very well with an oak-aged Chardonnay.