Yes, a cooking class where the “star” ingredient was Parmigiano Reggiano. When I received an email from Zingerman’s Bakehouse about this upcoming class I signed up right away. There are only 12 students per class so you have to respond quickly to get a spot.
Parmigiano Reggiano is my favorite cheese above all others and there is always a big supply in my refrigerator. I use this cheese a lot – it can be a main ingredient in one of my recipes or just shavings on top of a salad. No, this is not the Parmesan that you shake out of a container!
One of the Zingerman partners returned recently from a trip to Italy visiting and tasting some Parmigiano Reggiano from different dairies. As a result of this trip they are now offering 5 different cheeses. Ari has written a lengthy description about each dairy as well as included remarks from a formal taster for the regular assessment of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
There are a total of 339 dairies in this one area of Northern Italy comprising Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and portions of Bologna and Mantua. Only here are the conditions ideal to produce the only cheese in the world that can be called Parmigiano Reggiano.
Every cheese dairy is thoroughly inspected and every single cheese is checked by the Consorzio experts before it can be given the Parmigiano Reggiano “firebrand” and have its side panels show off the famous “pin dots”. There are many cheeses that try to lay claim to be as good such as Grana Padano but Parmigiano Reggiano remains at the top.
All I can say is don’t buy the “imitation” cheese, buy the real Parmigiano Reggiano. Maybe I will join the new Parmigiano Club so I can taste all these different Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses!
Now, back to the class! Our guest instructor was Evan Kleiman from Los Angeles who specializes in Italian cooking. She’s an author; “Cucina Fresca” is one of her cookbooks which was available for purchase. Evan is also a radio show host, former owner of an Italian caffe/pizzeria and in 2017 was named as a James Beard Who’s Who in Food in America member.
This is a list of what we made during a three hour class:
- Gnocchetti di Ricotta (beet ricotta gnocchi with brown butter, sage, and Parmigiano Reggiano)
- Cipolle alla Parmigiana (onions baked in salt, then scooped out and pureed with Parmigiano Reggiano and finished in the oven)
- Insalata Forte made with mixed baby greens, fennel bulb, Belgian endive and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish dressed with a Garlic Parmesan Salad Dressing
Evan also demonstrated the following dishes which we got to sample:
- Brodo di Reggiano (Parmesan Broth)
- Spinach Leek Straciatella Soup with Parmigiano Reggiano broth
- Ricotta “Carpaccio” with thinly sliced radishes, zucchini, carrots and shallots, drizzled with olive oil and crowned with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
I will make and post a few favorites later…