A traditional cow’s-milk bleu-veined cheese, Castelmagno has been made for several centuries in the municipalities of Monterosso Grana, Predleves, and Castelmagno in the province of Cuneo, Piedmont. A favorite of the region, it is now gaining in popularity within Italy as well as outside the country. Given the D.O.P. certification, Denominazione d’ Origine Protetta or Protected Designation of Origin, Castelmagno is guaranteed to be made in protected zones designated by the Italian government and made according to strict procedures and standards from breeding to final cheese production.
This cheese is made from cow’s milk of two successive milkings. Heated slightly to 35 to 38°C, then coagulated with rennet, the curd is broken into small lumps. Hung to dry briefly, later the curd is cut into cubes, drained in cheesecloth then packed in wooden tubs. It is after this point that Castelmagno’s production is particularly unique: the curd is milled very fine, kneaded with coarse salt, placed in cheese hoops, and pressed. After six days, each cheese is rubbed with salt, called dry-salting. This milling and dry-rubbing makes a very fine paste that crumbles easily once the cheese matures in caves. Some producers inoculate their cheese similar to making Gorgonzola.
What makes Castelmagno so distinctive is this bleu-veined cheese is often preferred not fully developed, when it is white without the bleu-veining that maturation causes. The young version retains its identity well with strong aroma, a dry, brittle crumb that finishes with a salty tang. Try making a cream sauce with grated young Castelmagno or grate it directly over gnocchi and pasta. Mature bleu Castelmagno makes a fine presentation as dessert served with chestnut honey.