Just recently, my husband was out buying a few things in our local supermarket here in Athens. Usually only one of us goes out at any given time since lockdown procedures means you have to have an SMS code on your phone with your stated purpose for being out. Plus, mandatory mask wearing. Plus, social distancing limiting the number of people in the shop at any given time.
What, you ask, does this have to do with the title of this post? Well, one of the items he had been instructed to get was Parmesan – specifically at the deli counter and not the pre-packaged or (horror) the pre-grated stuff. He later reported that the helpful deli attendant asked 1) did he wanted the rind cut off and 2) should the cheese be grated. Luckily, he chose correctly and simply said he wanted it as is. Telling me this later, he said he vaguely remembered that I kept the rinds (storing them in the freezer) although the purpose of this escaped him and that I had specifically nixed the idea of pre-grating.
A little while later, I was making room for batches of soup in the freezer. I always make double the amount and freeze half. During this clear-out, numerous packets of frozen Parmesan rinds were found tucked away among the frozen produce. I must have been squirreling them away for quite a while. There were so many that I decided it was finally time to try my hand at Parmesan broth.
Warning: the broth requires quite a large amount of Parmesan rinds. It is only practicable if you have a stash of them in the freezer. The recipe is a variation of one that appeared in Gourmet magazine.
- 900g – 1kg Parmesan rinds
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion (or 2 small)
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- Handful of chopped celery leaf or parsley
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 250ml of dry white wine
- 2 1/2 litres water
First, defrost your stash of Parmesan rinds. Peel and coarsely chop the onion. Peel and bash the garlic with the flat side of your knife and chopping it coarsely.
In a large stockpot, add enough olive oil to sauté the onion and garlic on medium low heat. When the onion and garlic are transparent, add the white wine. Deglaze, scrapping up bits if any have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then add the celery leaf or parsley (you can use stalks if you wish), peppercorns, bay leaf, and thyme. Stir. Then add the water. Finally drop in the defrosted Parmesan rinds.
Simmer gently for about 2 hours. Using a heat defuser helps. Remember to stir every once in a while since the Parmesan rinds have a tendency to sink and stick to the bottom of the pot. Turn off the heat, strain and discard the rinds and other solids. Once it is cool, it can be ladled into containers and put in the freezer.
The stock can be used in vegetable soups such as minestrone, with pastas, risottos, and Gourmet even suggests with beans.