One of Italy’s greatest contributions to food has got to be Parmesan. With its origins in the region of Emilia-Romagna, it is celebrated for its versatility. Ranging from being a garnish when grated over a casserole, or the masterpiece of a cheese board, it’s delicious salty notes can more than hold its own against robust blue cheeses or meats.
Far too often, a big part of the cheese ends up being unwanted and unloved trash. It doesn’t have to be that way though! The skin sometimes referred to as the rind of Parmesan has so much more to contribute to a lot of different dishes, if only you would give it a chance to display its fabulous qualities!
For example, when you’re braising a comforting dish. Along with whatever you add in terms of spices, herbs, and stock, the cooking liquor could definitely use some seasoning to lift the dish to a whole new level. Usually, you’d just reach for the salt and pepper, but it should be known that there is more than enough sodium residing within the skin of Parmesan. It offers a milky, subtle dose of sodium which cannot be achieved by just salt and pepper.
You may be wondering what to do with it, but it is fairly simple. All you have to do is put a piece into the liquid, allow it to soak and release its unique qualities. The heat will aid with soaking and absorb the delicious qualities, and when the braise is done turning into perfection in both texture and taste, you simply have to fish out what remains of the rind.
The same approach can be used when making other dishes, especially those you’re using the parmesan with. It simply acts as a delicious season, to give your dish that extra taste you’ve been searching for.
Not only does the parmesan skin impact dishes in terms of taste, it can also contribute the visual impact simply by placing it in the center of a cheese board. The iconic stenciling of the inscription of the rind ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’ will act as a signpost that quality products are on offer. It can also act as a conversation piece, providing any host the chance to educate their guests on what the stenciled letters mean in terms of Italian cheese, which in turn spreads the message of the quality of the cheese.
Although no matter what, the rind will eventually go in the trash, there will not be guilt attached because you have put the product to full use and it also acts as an excuse to go and purchase another Parmesan! (Who needs an excuse for that though?)