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Monday, February 13, 2012

Holy Parmigiano-Reggiano (Batman)!


Damn but this shit is good.

So good, in fact, that it is one of the most expensive single grocery items we ever buy.  And not all that often.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is basically the Champagne of Parmesan cheeses.  In more ways than one, truly.  Not only is it of the finest quality, but it is also strictly limited by regional production.  A parmesan cheese will ONLY ever be labeled Parmigiano-Reggiano if it is in fact authentically produced within one of a select few designated regions in Italy.  Feel free to check out the wikipedia article on it, if you're interested!  Anyway, I think of it as Champagne, because while sparkling wines are technically made all over the world, only those made within the French province of Champagne are deserving of the name.  So parmesan cheese can be from all over the world, but only Parmigianno-Reggiano comes from those designated regions in Italy.

Anyway, it's definitely a treat.

When I grew up, my family almost always had a thing of grated, dry, parmesan cheese in the fridge.  You know, those iconic Kraft cylindrical containers (green, I think?) with the turn-able spout on the top with small holes for if you were a moderate parmesan fan, or serious-sized holes for those whose fandom bordered the 'whoah that guy really likes parmesan'.

Anyway, I have never bought one of those.  I don't know why... I just never have.  I guess part of me looks at the way it comes packaged, and just associates it with other "processed" foods.  I'm skeptical that it is JUST cheese in there.  Really, it can't be because that shit lasts forever without going bad... so how do they do that with what should really be an unpasteurized dairy product??!!??  Also, I've found that you can generally substitute asiago or romano for parmesan, and these are oft-times much cheaper.  Certainly cheaper than Parmigiano-Reggiano.  That stuff costs $10 for a small brick.

The chunk pictured above cost about $14.  I forget exactly how much it weighed though... sorry.  It's a medium-sized chunk and will likely last me a couple weeks of heavy usage.  I'm a fly-by-night kind of cook, who'll use it up if it's there, and not if it's not.  Same with herbs, if you've noticed... Whenever I get a thing of fresh herbs, I'll purposefully come up with dishes that could use it; partly because I'm excited to have it and incorporate it into my meals, and partly because I don't want it to go bad and want to use it up.

Some of my favourite uses for Parmigiano-Reggiano are, in no particular order:

  1. grated on top of pasta.
  2. sprinkled on top of fresh, steamed, green vegetables with a pinch of black pepper and a titch of olive oil.
  3. on its own, baked lightly, and with a smidge of balsamic or something drizzled on top!!!
  4. on garlic bread.
  5. stirred into risotto
  6. stirred into pasta sauce (see alfredo sauce, for one example)
  7. mixed into a salad (hello, Caesar!)

There are a ton of uses, and it's so freakin delicious you could pretty much just stab it with a stick and gnaw on it and still be transported to new and sensual heights of delectability...

At these prices, however, I would recommend a more staid approach, and try and make it last as long as you can!