I’ve been a fan of Zingerman’s Online Mail-Order Shop for Food Lovers since I met Ari Weinzweig, one of its founders, in Italy many years ago. I’ve sent treasures from its catalogue to family and friends (and currently have a trove of its superb Portuguese sardines in my pantry). It is one of the most reliable sources of great olive oils I know.
In the new catalogue, I was delighted to read Parm Bones: How to Raise Flavor From Foods You Might Throw Away, an editorial-after-my-own-heart by Ari’s partner, Mo Frechette. Mo outlines essential tricks traditional, i.e. frugal, ie savvy cooks use to amplify flavor from the last bits of ingredients, like Parmigiano Reggiano “bones”. (My recipe for Parmesan broth is below).
Mo’s great intro tells the real source of these strategies:
You can read Mo’s entire article here. Here it is broken into hunks and notated:
Parmesan rinds make a lovely broth in lieu of chicken and can be used in the same way. I love it as a base for composed soups, to dress pastas, and to fortify risottos, or cook potatoes for mashing, and dried beans. (See my Parmesan Bone Broth recipe at the bottom of this article.)
Parmesan bones also works miracles in doctoring up ordinary canned chicken broth to make a rich, delicious broth. They last indefinitely, so are a great flavoring staple to keep in fridge or freezer.
I routinely throw Prosciutto, smoky ham, salami or guanciale rinds into stews, soups and broths to infuse them with flavor and body. I fish them out before serving.
Rather than making a broth, I often infuse chicken, beef, pork or lamb bones right into a dish I’m making -say a braise or a pot of beans. I’ll tie vegetable trimmings up into a cheese cloth bag, hobo-style. I simply remove them with tongs once they’ve given over they’re flavor, and discard. Easy-peasy.
The flavors that remain in a condiment jar can be amazing: jar drippings (like pan drippings). They’re good for dressing olives, roasted vegetables, on beans for bruschetta…even to use to dress pasta. Just make sure they still smell and taste fresh.
When I actually tasted pasta cooking water, I discovered that it is very similar to a light chicken broth. Hence the reason it is so good for emulsifying or extending the fats used to dress pasta. My recipe for Spaghetti With Spicy Garlic Oil And Anchovies is a great example of the technique.
Recipe: Parmesan Bone Broth (from A New Way to Cook)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth or water
2 cups water
1/4 pound Parmigiano Reggiano rind or 2 ounces Parmigianno Reggiano cheese
2 ounce chunk prosciutto (optional)
7 sprigs thyme
5 peeled garlic cloves
In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 1 hour. Strain. Let the liquid cool, then chill several hours. If desired, skim the congealed fat and discard. Makes about 1 quart.