It almost goes without saying: There is hardly an excuse to buy one of those green, cylindrical cans of pre-grated, processed Parmesan “cheese.”
A good chunk of real Parmigiano-Reggiano (or other Italian grating cheese) can be found in pretty much any grocery store across the country. When it comes to quality and flavor, there truly is no comparison.
If you don’t already buy your Parmesan in wedges, get some of the good stuff on your next trip to the store and grate it over your pasta. The difference is undeniable.
With a wedge of hard cheese, you get two uses for the price of one.
When you’ve grated the cheese down to the rind, don’t throw it away! The rind can be an amazing flavor booster for soups, stocks, sauces and even pasta water.
Don’t throw away the rind of Parmigiano—or other fine cheeses. Photo courtesy AG Ferrari.
Simply drop it into whatever it is you’re cooking and let it sit for as long as possible. It can add saltiness, richness, and even a bit of nuttiness to a dish (as do the rinds of other hard cheeses—just remove any heavy wax coating, such as the peelable wax on Gouda).
Pull the rind out before serving.
If you’re not planning to cook anything appropriate when you get down to the rind, wrap and save it until you do.
Or, you can toast the rinds and eat them.
Anyone in the world can make a cheese called “Parmesan,” using a recipe similar to authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano. While there are some perfectly fine Parmesans made in America and elsewhere, the same name is also used for that dried-out grated cheese sold in cardboard tubes.
The real-deal Parmigiano-Reggiano is regulated by law and must be produced in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, and made by a cheesemaker who is a member of the Consorzio Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium, a self-governing body of dairies). The cheese is produced in accordance with strict regulations: Cheeses deemed not good enough to bear the stamp of Parmigiano-Reggiano are removed from the aging caves and declassified.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the glories of the cheese world—and that includes its rind. Read more on the history and production of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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