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Stracchino is a type of cheese that hails from the Lombardy region of Italy. Similar to cream cheese, stracchino is typically soft and creamy with a slightly acidic tang. Typically featuring a high percentage of milkfat, this cheese makes an excellent and unusual replacement for other creamy cheeses.
Made from cow's milk, this cheese is celebrated for its delicate flavor and texture. Often eaten without aging, stracchino is excellent on its own or as a filling or topping. Stracchino is not a highly common cheese outside of Italy, though some specialty food or cheese shops will likely carry it.
The high milkfat content, which can be over 50% in some varieties, is what gives this type of cheese its creamy consistency and rich, but delicate flavor. A highly spreadable cheese, it makes a wonderful complement to jams or fruit preserves, and is excellent simply spread onto crackers. Some traditional recipes for foccaccia and Italian baked sandwiches use stracchino, but more often it is served as part of a cheese plate or simply alongside a crusty loaf of bread or crackers.
It is important to note that this delicious cheese expires quickly; it does not travel well and should be kept quite cool. It often comes packaged similar to cubes or sticks of butter; it is usually wrapped in paper and put inside an outer container to help maintain the shape and cool temperature. Stracchino is best eaten within a few days of purchase, or even right away for the best flavor.
Stracchino's spreadable quality and light flavor make it an excellent cheese for mixing dips and spreads. Finely chop up a few traditional Italian herbs, such as oregano or basil, and mix into the cheese with a fork. Add a bit of salt and pepper and spread generously onto a baguette for a tasty cheese sandwich. Mix stracchino with a firmer cheese, such as shredded pepper jack, and form into a rounded sphere that can be served with fruit and bread.
Pieces of this cheese can be crusted with herbs and nuts and tossed into salads to provide protein and calcium and provide a textural contrast to greens and vegetables. It makes an excellent replacement for cream cheese in traditional lasagna recipes. Stracchino is also delicious on pizza, used as an additional topping apart from the regular cheese layer. It is an excellent replacement for the saltier feta or other cheeses used as toppings or calzone fillings.