Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Do No Harm, Make Parm Broth!

Parmesan's longevity and versatile deliciousness makes it a classic worth having around. Chez nous, it adorns pizzas, blends into Béchamel sauce as a topping for lasagne, rounds out calzone filling, and parts a perfect richness to roasted broccoli soup. Hence there is a rind bounty. Though some are tossed into minestrone and tomato sauce to augment their robust taste, the rest become covered with fuzzy blue mold necessitating a wasteful visit to the bin. Now I pop each one into a ziploc bag in the freezer till there is enough to make a fabulous broth replete with silky body and fantastic flavour!

Olive oil rising to the top forms a delicious, lacy cloud with the aromatic broth

As there were leftovers from simmered chickens, linguine and capers in the larder, and last but not least, some asparagus fresh from our potager, they all got piled into a bowl of steaming broth.


However, there are various ways for serving this lusty fusion of Parmesan, white wine/sherry vinegar, olive oil, and a bouquet garni. It can form a base for soups, casseroles, and sauces. Different combinations of garnishes include other pasta shapes, roasted veggies like broccoli, white beans, poached egg, seared shrimp, crumbled cooked sausage/ham/bacon, and bread crumbs. The broth itself keeps for several days in the fridge. Though I did not test freezing, I suspect it could be reduced and frozen in ice-cube trays which makes plopping them into soups and sauces a breeze.

It's appropriate to leave a little cheese on the rinds!

If your household doesn't generate heaps of rinds, it may be possible to buy an inexpensive bag of them from a cheesemonger.

Ingredients
makes 2 ample servings, adapted from here. If substituting fresh herbs for the dried, use a bit more. Recipe can be doubled but the cooking time most likely will be longer.
  • Olive oil, 2 T
  • Onion, 1, peeled and quartered
  • Garlic, whole head, unpeeled, halved
  • Thyme, dried, 1 tsp
  • Bay leaf, one large
  • Parsley, dried, 1/4 tsp
  • Peppercorns, black, 1/2 tsp
  • White wine OR 1/2 tsp of sherry vinegar diluted in water, 8 fluid oz/237 ml
  • Water, 34 fluid oz/1 liter
  • Parmesan rinds, 10 dry oz/284 gms
  • Linguine, a bundle about an inch/2.5 cm in diameter
  • Garnish: cooked chicken chunks, asparagus tips, capers
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, like a dutch oven, over moderately high heat for about a minute, then add the next six ingredients and while stirring, saute until browned, about five minutes.


Carefully pour in the wine or diluted vinegar and simmer for about five minutes or until reduced in half.

This concentrating intensifies the flavour

Toss in the rinds and pour in the water. Stir well and cover with the lid a bit ajar to encourage broth reduction. Simmer for about thirty minutes or until the flavour develops to the point of knocking your socks off. Stir a few times as the rinds tend to stick to the bottom*.


Strain and salt to taste. Cook linguine in the broth then divide evenly in bowls. Using a fork, you can twist the pasta into nests if that is your preference. Garnish with chicken, asparagus tips, and capers. Luscious, I say!


À la prochaine!

*Cleaning tip: that mass of molten rinds will leave strainer and pot somewhat challenging to clean. While the pasta is simmering in the strained broth, I fill up the empty pot/strainer with warm soapy water. I eat. Then I scrape the pot's bottom with a wooden spoon, finish the cleaning with an abrasive sponge and using a veggie brush/toothbrush, clean the strainer. This stuff is so good, it's worth this bother!