Provoleta is an Argentinian version of provolone cheese. It is also popularly known as “Spinning Argentine provolone cheese”. This cheese is barbecued and generally served as an appetizer not only in Argentina, but in Uruguay as well. It has been a tradition in this part of South America, to consume small disc shaped provolone cheese (about 1 to 2 cm in height and 10 to 15 cm in diameter) along with asado, before the grilled meat is consumed.
Provoleta was invented by Natalio Alba in 1940. He created this cheese with the intention of amalgamating the culinary likings of Italians and Argentinians and to offer a cheese that could go well with roasts that are popular in Argentina. A new technique of keeping the cheese soft in the center and crispy on the outside, so that it does not melt while being grilled along with the roast, was developed and that is how Provoleta came into existence, which was patented in the year 1963.
Provoleta is prepared by grilling provolone cheese that is topped with oregano and chili, which are pressed down on the cheese so they do not drop off. These slices are grilled directly on hot stones, till the cheese melts, while the outer layer turns crispy. The cheese can be flipped and grilled on the other side as well, if desired. Chimichurri (made with spices and oil) is a popular seasoning used on this cheese, which is generally served with bread.
Grilling provolone cheese requires a lot of care and understanding as to the time to grill it and the right time to take it off the hot stones.
- If cooking directly on hot rocks seems difficult, it is best to grill the cheese placed in a disposable aluminum pan or wrap it with foil and then place on hot stones.
- Another easy way to grill the cheese is by melting it in a greased pan. However, it may not taste the same as the one grilled on direct fire.
- Whichever, the manner of cooking, it is necessary to ensure that the cheese is not grilled too much or made too crispy; else the provoleta can taste bitter.
Popular Provoleta Recipe
Provoleta is generally served as a side dish or appetizer. At the same time it is also used in combination with other ingredients to prepare some delicious dishes. Detailed here is one such recipe –
Charred-Aged Provolone (Provoleta) with Oregano and Tomatoes - This simple yet delicious dish is made with aged provolone cooked in a cast iron griddle. The surface of the cheese needs to be smooth; however, it can be sliced to the desired thickness. Cheese slice that is oiled on one side is browned in a non-stick griddle, with the oiled side facing down. This browned cheese (with the browned side facing upwards) is baked and served with a topping of diced tomato, oregano and a few drops of olive oil. It is seasoned with a little sea salt. This appetizer is best eaten warm with crusty bread and it goes very well with vinaigrette dressed green salad.
The best way to eat this cheese is either with a slice toasted or crusty bread. It can also be eaten as is; however, just about one slice of the barbecued provoleta is sufficient per serving.