Perhaps the most fun cheese to pronounce, Gorgonzola is named after the Italian village of Gorgonzola, now part of Milan. It has a Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP) certification and can only be made from milk from cows in the Piedmont and Lombardy provinces.
The production of this blue cheese—similar to a Stilton or Roquefort— is sometimes credited to a young, distracted lover who accidentally left his cheese curds to drain overnight. The next day he mixed the neglected curds with the morning's batch, resulting in blueing of the cheese weeks later. Originally aged in caves, Gorgonzola is now often aged in climate-controlled areas. A penicillium mold is added to the cheese and holes are poked in it to encourage mold growth.
White to pale yellow with blue/green veins and spots, gorgonzola has a strong, distinctive smell and is generally salty and sweet yet spicy, though it can be mild, depending on the aging. The aging also dictates the texture, which can be creamy and moist or a bit dry and crumbly.
Two types of Gorgonzola are readily available, Dolce and Piccante. Dolce, or Sweet Gorgonzola, is sweet, milky and creamy, with hints of spice. It's aged for about three months. Piccante is more piquant and crumbly. It's aged six months or more. It's also called Gorgonzola Picante or Mountain Gorgonzola.
Want to make a substitution that will instantly enliven any cheese dish? Replace the more mundane cheese (or part of the cheese) in your pizza, pasta or sandwich with Gorgonzola. Try it on a grilled sandwich, especially. Its flavorful presence will enhance any salad, too, like this Mediterranean Salad with Blue Cheese.
Gorgonzola partners well with everything from delicate crackers to robust meats. Pair it with figs for a tempting appetizer or snack. Because it's distinct yet complimentary and lovely to look at, it makes a perfect party platter choice, too. For inspiration, read our article on Creating the Perfect Cheese Plate.
Thanks to a hint of sweetness, Gorgonzola is an ideal dessert cheese or choice for fruity dishes, like Gorgonzola Stuffed Pears, where it's combined with dried cranberries, mascarpone cheese and pecans to create a delectable stuffing for grilled ripe pears. Gorgonzola would also be an ideal choice in Grilled Apricots with Smoky Blue Cheese and Almonds, where sweet and savory meet to create an irresistible dessert.
Whether serving as a snack or in a main dish, pair milder Gorgonzola with fruity white wines and stronger with robust red wines.
Wrap Gorgonzola in wax or parchment paper, then store in the refrigerator. While it will keep for several weeks, it will become stronger with age and so is often best used within a few days of purchase.
Gorgonzola can be frozen up to six months, though it will become crumbly when defrosted. Wrap in freezer foil or plastic freezer wrap and place in a freezer bag in the freezer. Learn more about storing cheese.