Ah, Parmesan… one of my favorite cheeses. It’s always available when I need something to tang up my pasta or soup. The issue: the rind. What do you do with the leftover crust? You could always dump it in some stock, but that’s about it. Until today! You see, my interest was perked by an innocent twittering by Lemonpi of the awesome blog.lemonpi.net:
This sounds crazy, but I bought Reggiano today just for the crust, so I could do this http://tiny.cc/M2HjK Must be tried to be believed!
This sounded incredible… I just had to try it! I discussed it with her for a bit and later that night I went out and bought myself a bucket of Parmesan crusts (thanks to Whole Foods it came to about $2.50 for a half pound) and fired up the microwave.
The first experiment was a complete failure. Instead of a nice, crisp texture I got hard and chewy. Not good. I messed around some more and I finally figured it out. Instead of cooking it based on time, you should cook it like popcorn and “listen” for it to be finished. When it stops popping, stop the time no more than 5 seconds or so later. If you take it out too soon, it’ll be hard and chewy. Too late, and it’ll be burned. The next thing is that you need to treat it like microwaved bacon. When you first take the bacon out it is all floppy, but let it cool for a min and it’s nice and crisp. Same thing here. Let it rest and it’s awesome, don’t let it and it isn’t. So, to break this down:
- Cut a piece of parmesan and put it on the center of a plate.
- Microwave until it stops “popping,” usually between 30 and 90 seconds.
- Take out and let rest until cool, usually for 60 – 120 seconds.
- Eat your crunchy cheese!
So what can you do with this stuff? Well, first of all, you can just eat it. It isn’t as strong as you’d think and it has a nice crunch to it. Secondly, I’d say let your mind play. I think it could serve as a replacement for bread in certain gluten-free applications, or you could always do this:
Yep, that’s bruschetta without the bread. The recipe here is pretty simple:
- “Puffed” Parmesan crust, 1/2″ cube before puffing
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Dash of salt and pepper
- Fresh basil, chiffonaded
- Garlic, sliced thin
- Tomato, 1/2″ – 1″ cube
Take those ingredients and…
- Spear the parmesan with a toothpick.
- Drip about 3 – 5 drops of both the olive oil and the vinegar onto the parmesan.
- Place the basil through the toothpick and on top of the parmesan.
- Place sliver of garlic through toothpick, on top of basil.
- Dash of salt and pepper.
- Spear through some prosciutto on top of the garlic.
- Finish with a bit of tomato
- Consume happily!
I think it serves as a great snack if you’re in a hurry or hors d’oeuvres for guests, honestly. If you try this, please share what you do with it!