After Theo Randall used it as a staple ingredient in two of his four pizzas designed for Pizza Express, Grana Padano hard cheese has received a soar in popularity amongst chefs and the public.
Giorgio Locatelli has even made an ice cream flavoured after the cheese, which is surprisingly the number one best selling P.D.O (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese in the world.
While many chefs use Parmesan to add a rich, cheesy taste to classic Italian dishes, Grana Padano is in fact lower in fat and salt and, depending on the maturity, richer in taste.
Grana Padano can be matured for anywhere between nine and 24 months. The younger cheese has a soft, creamy, mellow flavour, while the more aged varieties have a brittle, crumbly texture and rich taste.
Having worked with Grana Padano throughout his career, Randall has created several dishes using the cheese as a staple ingredient, and has exclusively given BigH readers the recipe for his creamy Onion Squash Risotto.
Onion squash risotto
200g risotto rice
1 litre chicken stock
1 tbls chopped red onion
1 tbls chopped celery
1 small onion squash (about 500g)
2 tsp chopped marjoram
100g Grana Padano cheese
1 clove garlic
2 tbls olive oil
Trim the skin off the onion squash and cut into 1cm cubes. Toss in large bowl with salt, pepper and olive oil then transfer to a baking dish. Cover and bake in a pre-heated oven (set at approx 180C) for 30 minutes until soft.
In a large saucepan soften the red onion and celery then add the rice. Cook for 5 minutes before adding stock, stirring continuously. When the rice is almost ready add the cooked squash, marjoram, Grana Padano, butter, salt & pepper.