Parmigiano-Reggiano stock

It’s officially autumn so I always start thinking about cooking. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of making a Parmigiano-Reggiano soup stock and have been saving the rinds for a few months. I’d made it once before but I didn’t let the stock simmer long enough, and I let the temperature get too high,  and then let it cool too much. The end result was a watery broth that left a nasty, gooey mess in the bottom of the pot that my poor husband had to clean. Just a few rinds tossed in water wasn’t very tasty at all.

This time I did my research and pored through my favorite Italian cookbooks and websites. They all said that the important part of having a tasty stock is to let the rinds cooks slowly for a few hours. Obviously this had to be a weekend project.

I’m happy to report that this second batch of Parmigiano stock was much tastier.I used it in a risotto – it was sublime.

To make the stock successfully, here’s my method. I don’t really measure my ingredients, except for baking – I cook by taste, or as the French say au pif (by smell or instinct.)

First, I sauteed a chopped onion until it was very soft but not caramelized. I put in the cheese rinds, and then poured in enough water to cover them plus an extra couple of inches. I let the whole thing barely simmer for three hours. The smell of the stock wafting through the house was wonderful – it’d be great to make on a chilly winter day.

Once the rinds are very soft and the bits of cheese have come off, taste the stock. I was surprised that it needed some salt – I added some and let it simmer for another five minutes. Next, while the stock is still hot, remove the rinds and large pieces of cheese – if you wait until the stock is cool, you will regret the mess in the bottom of your pot. The melted cheese bits are the cook’s reward…delish!

The last step is to pour the stock through a piece of cheesecloth. Your end result is a lovely, rich stock ready to be used in risotto or soup or a sauce.

I can imagine lots of variations. One thing I want to try is caramelizing the onions before adding the water – I bet it would be really rich and tasty. You could add herbs or saffron or a bit of ham -there are lots of possibilities. Just don’t let the rinds cool down in the pot…!


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