Baked scamorza with garlic bruschetta - it does have a nicer ring to it than Italian cheese on toast. But that's really what it is.
What is scamorza?
Scamorza is strangled mozzarella. It’s nowhere near as popular in the UK as its non-strangled sister, though significantly easier to spell correctly – no confusing double consonants. Mozarrela? Mozzarrella? I admit I have to make an effort to remember it's double 'z' and 'l' but a single 'r'. Mozzarella.
But 'scamorza' is quite a difficult word to remember, a cross between ‘camorra’ and ‘Scaramouche’. It always sounds to my ears like a mild swearword: 'oh scamorza! I cut myself!'
How is scamorza made?
A pat of mozzarella is strangled and hung out to dry after shaping. It takes on the appearance of a gigantic belly button or a stump of an amputated limb – it does look quite gross in my opinion.
The hanging and drying lets it develop a lovely skin or rind, which is usually the best bit of any cheese. Also in my humble opinion. But then I greedily nibble Parmesan rind after grating.
The drying process takes about two weeks. Then the cheese may be lightly smoked thus making scamorza affumicata (smoked), hardening the skin and deepening the flavour.
How to use scamorza in cooking?
Scamorza can be used wherever you’d use mozzarella and complain that it’s watery/not stringy enough/bland. I actually think a mix of scamorza and mozzarella is the perfect pizza topping.
Scamorza also has the advantage of lasting much longer, wrapped in parchment, in the fridge: long after mozzarella has gone all manky and off, scamorza is still good to eat. Thanks to being drier, obviously.
But the best use of scamorza is in a posh version of cheese on toast: baked scamorza with garlic bruschetta.
And what is bruschetta then?
Bruschetta is a grilled slice of bread, usually rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. It’s awkward to pronounce: instead of the expected by an Anglo-Saxon ‘broo-shetta’ it has an explosive ‘SK’ in the middle: ‘broo-sketta’ is the correct, though rarely heard outside Italy, pronunciation.
May I confuse you a little here? Do not mistake Italian bruschetta with the Spanish brocheta!
The latter has nothing to do with bread, grilled or otherwise, as it means 'skewer' and is annoyingly pronounced: 'bro-chetta'. So don't expect a grilled chicken sandwich if you order brocheta de pollo in a tapas restaurant: skewers of chicken dangling decoratively from metal holders will arrive.
Cheese on toast!
Baked scamorza with bruschetta then is nothing other than posh Italian cheese on toast. It’s completely delightful and very much worth the semantic and phonetic challenges.
I like to bake it in small individual dishes or mini frying pans. It doesn't take more than ten minutes to bake and you can toast your bruschetta in the same oven, at the same time.
Thyme leaves and a few seeds make it a special meal, much nicer than scoffing Cheddar on Hovis white (IMHO). Hope you agree once you've tried!