Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) – Guest Cheese from Italy
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Emilia-Romagna is a region of northern Italy which extends from the Apennine Mountains to the Po River and has the vibrant Bologna as its capital. It’s a region famous for its historic medieval cities, seaside resorts and not surprisingly its gastronomic delights (pasta-loving visitors rejoice!)
But it’s also the home of true Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese – and we don’t mean the generic type of parmesan (which is not bad) or the imposter parmesans masquerading as the real McCoy.
This is pure, unadulterated Parmesan made by skilled artisans. It uses the milk of cows fed on fresh grass and hay, by way of process which has more than a nod to essentials like the ideal temperature, the fat content and the perfect length of time given to aging.
In fact, under Italian law, only cheese produced in this region and in part of Mantua in Lombardy, may be labelled ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’, and European law classifies the name, as well as the translation ‘Parmesan’ as a protected designation of origin. The geographical region spans 10,000 square km but is so strictly defined that you can apparently make Parmigiano on one side of Bologna but not on the other!
Nobody makes Parmigiano-Reggiano like the Italians, though many have tried, because they’ve learned their art from generations of family cheese-makers over hundreds of years.
A Cheese of Parts
But, did you know that Parmesan is a cheese of parts?
Just like the rosy side of an apple picked from the tree or the flesh of the melon closest to the stone, the heart of the Parmesan at the centre of the rounds is the best part, and sweeter than the wedges. The heart is perfect for shavings while the wedges are best grated.
Parmesan is a culinary wizard too – adding a ‘Midas touch’ to a whole range of favourite dishes.
Try it in a sausage cobbler, a shepherd’s pie or mac ‘n’ cheese to see what we mean. It’s also nice in a pear and fennel salad, wonderful in sauces and soups, delicious on top of mashed or roast potatoes and broccoli and perfect with asparagus. The possibilities are endless, and here’s a great link from BBC Good Food to give you some ideas:
Or what about our own little take on a traditional family favourite?
The Truckle Cheese Family – Three Cheese Risotto
• 1 litre stock
• Good drizzle of olive oil
• 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 clove of garlic
• 400g risotto rice
• 2 glasses of dry white wine
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 100g Truckle Cheese Vintage Mature Cheddar, roughly chopped
• 100g Truckle Cheese Blue Stilton, roughly chopped
• 50g freshly grated Truckle Cheese Parmesan cheese
Gently heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onions and garlic and fry gently for about 5 minutes until softened and pale in colour.
Add the rice to the pan and cook gently for a minute or so, stirring constantly.
Then add the white wine and keep stirring - the alcohol flavours will evaporate.
Once the wine has been absorbed by the rice, slowly add the stock and salt and pepper. Turn the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 mins.
Stir in the Cheddar and Blue Stilton, then once melted fully remove the pan from the heat and season to taste, top with Parmesan and place a lid on the pan and leave to rest for 2 to 3 minutes. Enjoy!
Buy Truckle’s Parmigiano-Reggiano
Our Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan is a hard, granular cheese, which has been aged for 24 months. It’s a single rind Parmesan, rich in calcium, amino acids, protein and vitamins, and is available in 1kg Wedges, 500g Wedges or 300g Hearts.
Go Italian tonight!