Don’t Throw That Out! Meet Your New BFF, the Parmegiano Reggiano Rind

My family lives by the rule that there must be a hunk of Parmegiano Reggiano on hand at all times. Grate a little on scrambled eggs or on the dullest of pastas and you’re suddenly a lot more excited about the meal you’re about to eat. Keeping up with my family’s Parmegiano habit is a bit of a splurge, but we’ll gladly make room in our grocery budget any day of the week. [PS: If you don’t already have a microplane grater, go out and get one. It’s great for making fluffy, ethereal piles of granted Parmegiano — awesome for lemon zest too].

Parmegiano rinds themselves are a rather magical ingredient. When you come upon them rock hard and abandoned in some far corner of your refrigerator it might seem tempting to toss them, but curb those impulses — Parmegiano rinds are umami gold! They are my #1 go to fix-it ingredient whenever I make a soup or a pasta sauce that’s somewhat lacking. When a flavor crisis arises, just throw in a cheese rind and then sit back, let it simmer and you’ll coax out a flavorful, complex saltiness that can cure even the biggest case of the blahs.

My friend Becky told me she requests Parmegiano Reggiano rinds from her local cheese monger and gets them on the cheap. We seem to eat Parmegiano like it’s going out of style so we always have a rind or two on hand, but I may just need to try that trick one of these days.

In case you needed more inspiration for saving those cheese rinds, here are a few ingenious ideas that I know you’re going to want to try. Enjoy!

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Keeping Lemons Fresh and Other Tasty Tidbits

Some of my favorite bits and pieces from the past several weeks. Enjoy!
  • Never wonder “what to eat” in San Francisco. If this crib sheet of the city’s tastiest bites doesn’t inspire you to immediately set off on a food adventure, I don’t know what will. We’re working our way down the the “SFoodie 92” list from SF Weekly, but for now we can vouch for Fraiche’s frozen yogurt, Plow’s Crispy Potatoes, the Meatball Sandwich from Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store among others. Get out there and eat, people!
  • Thoughts on Family Food by Chef Mario Batali — Mario Batali discusses the family dinner (and how he got his kids to eat just about everything) on this episode of NPR’s Splendid Table. Fish taco Thursdays? Sign me up, Mario! [… this episode also includes San Francisco’s own Karen Solomon on making simple cured meats at home. Check out her book Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It and Other Cooking Projects and her monthly baby food swap at 18 Reasons, too.]
  • On Buttered Pasta and Expensive Coffee with Chef Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune Restaurant — While I aspire to Mario Batali’s quintessential family dinner, there are nights I can relate much more to Gabrielle Hamilton’s account of boring buttered noodle dinners and cold leftover bites eaten unceremoniously from her kids’ plates. Sound a little bit familiar, anyone? Check out this piece for New York Magazine’s “New York Diet” column, a kind of culinary “day-in-the-life” series.