Cutting into an 87-pound Grana Padano Wheel

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Our cheese girls faced a new challenge this week when Cafe Roma, a restaurant and wine bar in San Luis Obispo, ordered an entire wheel of Grana Padano for a private banquet. They had a special request for this massive 87.5-pound wheel: that it be cut in half, along the side, in a perfectly straight line. They were planning on making a special dish in which they hollowed out the center and and filled it with fresh, hot risotto. As they stir the risotto in wheel, the cheese melts into it, resulting in an incredibly delicious and cheesy meal!

IMG_0780(1) Normally when these large wheels are cut, special tools are inserted into the cheese around the perimeter until the pressure causes the wheel to crack and crumble apart. However, this method leaves a jagged and uneven cut. The dish required the cut to be cut straight and evenly, so that method was out of the question. The next technique was to cut the cheese with a wire, but our parmesan wires were just a bit too small to fit over the massive wheel. This was a job for our one and only Cheese Lady, Zina! With a few extra helping hands, a jerry-rigged extra-long cutting wire, and about an hour of time she was successful! Here are some photos of the entire process!

 

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Wheels of Grana Padano range from about 70-88 pounds. This particular wheel is from Zanetti, a cheese company in Italy, and is marked with a metal seal to ensure the cheese’s authenticity.
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The other side of Zanetti cheeses are marked with a four leaf clover that indicates the province of origin.

After cleaning the wheel, Zina scores all the way around the side of the cheese with a sharp knife in order to allow the wire a place to go into the cheese as well as to prevent it from snapping.

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The wire was too small to fit around the cheese, and after some trial and error they were able to tie two wires together to accommodate for the size of the huge wheel. With great care (and some support from Cindi), Zina places the wire on the scored line and prepares to make the cut.
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This job requires some serious muscle! Keeping that heavy wheel upright while putting all your might into turning the crank to cut through the cheese is no easy feat!

The finished product! The word “Grana” translates to “grainy” or “granular,” which is evident in the texture of the cheese. The whole process took about an hour but it was well worth the wait!

 

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