. Recipes .

Recipe: Pecorino al Flambe

Posted: 28 January 2012


My sister is a bit of a foodie inspiration to me, she just loves to try new and exciting things – often things that are a bit more technically challenging than I would typically go for.  With this in mind she heard a recipe on the radio recently that she just had to try.  The method involved hollowing out a whole pecorino, throwing some grappa into the hollow and lighting it!  You then scrape down the lovely soft cheese and throw a mound of cooked pasta on top.  Sounded too fun not to try.  Lucky for me I had a trip over to visit her planned for last weekend so I got to join in the fun.

Sourcing a whole pecorino wasn’t the most straight-forward of tasks, but following a few calls around the local delis we were the proud owners of one 2k pecorino – all for the princely sum of £26. Ok, I know that’s not cheap for a single disk, but I am assured though that my sister now has a freezer full of pecorino and is looking for more cheesy recipes to use it up on. I also note that the recipe below calls for a high proof which we didn’t have – Brandy did the job though.

So, this is fun to make and is a bit of a show stopper when you place it on the dinner table.  I don't think it would matter too much if you either don’t want to pay for or can’t find the whole pecorino - you can buy a piece of pecorino which you can cut into shavings and then flambĂ© in a frying pan or wok.  This recipe originates from Katie Caldesi at The Italian Cookery Course, I hope you enjoy!

Pecorino al Flambe
The finished dish

Number Served:



160g linguine or tagliolini, dried or fresh
1 whole pecorino
20g butter
½ white onion, finely chopped
2 tbsps sage leaves, roughly chopped
4 tbsps white wine
4 tbsps stock or pasta cooking water
2 tbsps double cream
2 tbsps alcohol (ideally min 60% proof, or high strength grappa)
2 tbsps brandy
Freshly ground black pepper


1.    Cook the pasta in boiling salted water.  If you are using fresh pasta, do this after you have made the sauce; if you are using dried pasta, start to cook it while you make the sauce.

2.    Hollow out the pecorino, saving 40g of the scrapings in the bottom of the cheese.

3.    Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the onion, chopped sage, pepper and salt.  When softened, add the white wine over a high heat & allow it to reduce for a minute or two.

4.    Now, add the stock to the pan and let it reduce, as before.  Add the cream and stir through.

5.    Warm the alcohol & brandy, either in a ladle over a gas flame or in a pan, and pour it into the cheese and set fire to it, using a taper or long match.

6.    When the flame has died away, scrape away another 40g of pecorino from around the edges & leave this in the bottom of the cheese.

7.    When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the sauce in the pan.  Stir to combine, then put it into the pecorino and toss it around inside, using tongs, to mix it with the cheese scrapings.

8.    Serve in warmed bowls, sprinkled with black pepper.