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TIP OF THE DAY: Shave Parmesan Onto Everything

You shave Parmesan cheese onto pasta and risotto, meatballs and Caesar salad; maybe on other green salads, too; perhaps to garnish soups. But why stop there?

Armed with two different grating gadgets*, the space for which we need to justify, we’ve been shaving Parmesan cheese onto just about everything. Just a bit goes a long way as a tangy, nutty garnish.

We add shaved Parmesan cheese to these dishes (if cooked, after they come off the heat):

  • Beef, from slices to whole steaks and burgers. Try a roast beef sandwich with shaved Parmesan and arugula and of course, on a steak salad.
  • Carpaccio and crudo. (In Italian cuisine, carpaccio is raw beef fillet, crudo is raw seafood.)
  • Chicken and fish, grilled or baked. Not a surprise for those who like Chicken Parmigiano or Parmesan-breaded chicken or fish.
  • Eggs, any style.
  •    
    beef-salad-parmesan-blissfullydelicious-230
    Sliced steak and salad with shaved Parmesan. Photo courtesy Blissfully Delicious. Here’s the recipe.
  • Grains, from rice to quinoa. The best cheese grits are made with grated Parmesan and topped with some shavings.
  • Vegetables, particularly grilled vegetables and steamed asparagus. A favorite summer side is a grilled or broiled tomato, removed from the grill and covered with shaved Parmesan.
  •  
    As an aside to shaved Parmesan ideas, in Italy, chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano are often eaten for dessert with a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and perhaps some fresh strawberries. The same wedge you use for shaving can be broken into chunks for a cheese plate.

     

    shaved-parmesan-onceuponachef-230
    You can shave Parmesan with a vegetable peeler. Photo courtesy Once Upon A Chef.
     

    PARMESAN & PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO: THE DIFFERENCE

    “Parmesan cheese” can be produced anywhere on earth, however the manufacturer desires.

    Parmigiano-Reggiano dates to medieval Italy. It is PDO-protected and produced only by members of a consortium, the Consorzio del formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano. It can only be made from the milk of local cows in the Italian provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and certain parts of Bologna and Mantova.

    Producers must adhere to strict Consorzio guidelines, which ensure that the cheeses develop the profoundly complex flavors of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano. Wheels that don’t meet the standards are declassified and aren’t given the official Consorzio stamp.

    Note to connoisseurs: The best Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is considered to be Vacche Rosse (“Red Cow”), with milk from a specific herd of cows, that is 30 months. If you can’t find it locally, you can buy it at iGourmet.com.

     

    For most people, generic Parmesan is just fine. For connoisseurs, tasting the real deal can be an eye-opener. It is intense and complex, with nutty, sweet, grassy, creamy and fruity flavors. That’s why it has long been called called the “King of Cheeses.”
     
    PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO TIPS

  • Buy it only in wedges. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano begins to lose its flavor after grating.
  • Keep the cheese in the fridge for up to a month. After then, it slowly starts to lose flavor but can still be used.
  • Rewrap with fresh plastic or parchment paper at least once a week.
  • Don’t toss the rinds. Use them to add flavor to soups or pasta sauces.
  •  
    Here’s more on Parmesan vs. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and still more about Parmigiano Reggiano itself.

     
    *You can use a vegetable peeler; no special gadget required.
      




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