academia barilla  January 2007

Can’t get enough of Parmigiano!

OK, OK, so, perhaps my last post on Parmigiano-Reggiano and its production [...]

Parmigiano-Reggiano detailOK, OK, so, perhaps my last post on Parmigiano-Reggiano and its production was a bit wordy… Well, you’re right, but to produce such an amazing cheese, you need a truly amazing description. And I dedicated a whole year-long blog post about it. Cosi’ e’ la vita!Nonetheless, there are so many ways to use this nutty, tasty, incredible cheese that I could post 40 times as much as I have already, and still not finish with even some of the ideas. And keeping in mind that I am not the chef around this blog, I’ve still got some ideas as to how to use Parmigiano-Reggiano in a fun way.

Massimo will surely give you more ideas as to how to use Parmigiano-Reggiano. Above all, the importance of knowing about this cheese, and its many uses, it paramount to understanding Italian culinary tradition, as well as the uses of a great traditional product.

Right now, let’s examine how to use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in fun and simply ways that don’t involve simply grating it onto your pasta.

Parmigiano-ReggianoRECIPE IDEA 1: Really Simple

Parmigiano + Balsamico = “Basta, that was easy!”

Here’s an age-old classic that never fails. Parmigiano-Reggiano chunks, either fresh from the wheel or just from a larger chunk, can be drizzled with aged Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena for an excellent and easy antipasto cheese plate.
Combine with a few grapes, walnuts, Anjou Pears and Braeburn Apples, and you have a gourmet picnic.


Parmigiano-Reggiano Crisps

What you’ll need: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated, about one cup. Also some black pepper, or cayenne, if you’re one of the “I like it spicy” crowd.


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. On a Silpat, or any other nonstick silicone baking sheet, place a heaping tablespoon of cheese and then flatten with the back of your spoon.

Make sure there’s enough space between each cheese crisp, usually about 2-3 inches or so.

Season lightly with pepper and then bake for about 3-5 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Watch these carefully, as your oven could brown ‘em up a little too fast…

Serve as a delectable garnish to soups, salads, or whatever else you want.

A note about wine pairing.

Now, it is seemingly customary here in the United States to pair Parmigiano-Reggiano with Port or Zinfandel. While that pairing generally works, I encourage you, dear reader, to put down the Dow’s next time around, and think about these wine pairings.

Brunello di Montalcino – one of the king wines of Tuscany, this 100% sangiovese wine can be lovely with a hunk of stravecchio Parmigiano. Try vintages from 1997 or 2000, if you can find them for under $100 a bottle!

Colli di Parma Rosso DOC – A truly hard-to-find red wine here in the States, this DOC red made mostly of Barbera matches nearly perfectly with Parmigiano-Reggiano’s nuttiness. Why? Well, it is grown in the hills very close to where the mucche rosse reggiane graze for the milk that goes into Parmigiano. Any good, hearty Barbera from Piedmont or Northern California could do, however.

In the blogosphere, check out Catherine Granger’s useful blogpost that mentions Parmigiano (even if she spells it the “American” way, wink!) and Brunello, and describes the majority of Parmigiano uses.

Have a good wine pairing of your own? Leave a comment below!

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