Scamorza is a cousin to the more familiar mozzarella. Like its famous relative, scamorza is a cheese made from stretched curd, formed into a ball. Scamorza, however, is tied with string and hung up to dry, giving it a more solid texture, as well as its typical ‘pear’ shape. And scamorza is generally made from cow’s milk, while the best mozzarella is made with the milk of the water buffalo. Scamorza comes smoked (my favorite) or plain; both kinds can be used in the same ways.
Scamorza’s texture makes it a great cheese for griddling. Cut into thick slices and placed on a very hot griddle, it forms a delicious crust on the outside, while the inside melts into gooey goodness. It’s incredibly easy and incredibly good, the only trick being to make sure you don’t let it go too long, or it will lose its shape. When made this way, the scamorza slices are often topped with prosciutto (or cooked ham) which gives it even more flavor. Served with some good, crusty bread and a green salad, it makes a delightful, light meal ready in 5 minutes.
Ingredients (one scamorza serves 2 people)
1 scamorza, smoked or not, cut into thick slices
Prosciutto crudo, thinly sliced
Heat a griddle or heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet until very hot. Add the scamorza slices, keeping them well spaced, and sear one side, then the other side, of the slices. This should take no more than 1 minute per side.
If using a topping: When the second side is almost done, place a slice of prosciutto on each slice of scamorza. The heat of the skillet should ‘wilt’ the prosciutto without actually cooking it. Alternatively, you can add a fillet or two of anchovy on each slice of scamorza.
Serve immediately. Don’t wait or the cheese will become unpleasantly rubbery.
NOTES: Besides prosciutto crudo or anchovy fillets, ‘regular’ sliced cooked ham goes very nicely with scamorza. And you can get creative if you like with the toppings: julienned zucchini or peppers, for example, are nice vegetarian options.
Scamorza can be grilled in exactly the same way if you prefer, which adds a nice extra layer of smokiness. You can even make them into spiedini: cut them into chunks rather than slices, then wrap them in pancetta and thread them onto skewers. Grill until the pancetta has browned on both sides and enjoy!