Parmigiano-Reggiano must be one of the better known and most beloved cheeses in the world. This Italian hard cow’s milk cheese has often been named the “King of Cheeses”, an informal title it shares with other cheesy gems such as Brie de Meaux, Roquefort, Époisses, Stilton and Cheddar. Alongside its long-standing reputation (the cheese is said to be around 800 years old, at the least) of being a luxury product of excellent quality, it’s obvious why this cheese was crowned a “king”: it is an umami-lover’s and cook’s ‘dream food’ with its pungent salty flavor and crumbly granular texture! We like to shave it over foods, grate it into foods and eat it by itself cut into crumbly wedges or chunks… and with a cheese so exquisite, why would you throw away the rind?!
I’ve said it before: I hate to be wasteful. In my post for shellfish stock, I’ve confessed to the fact that I think shrimp-, lobster- and crab shells are definitely not trash in my house and that my freezer looks like an over-crowded, plastic-packaged crustacean-shell cemetery. Somewhere between these bags of crustacean shells and vegetable peels and cut-offs, there is one zip lock bag full of Parmigiano-Reggiano (and Grana Padano!) rinds, which I use to make the most delicious broth.
If you aren’t already doing it, you should definitely make your wedge(s) of Parmigiano-Reggiano last a bit longer by saving up a decent amount of rinds to make this broth. It may take you a couple of months to save up enough rinds (though you can add even the smallest piece of rind to any broth, stock or stew-like dish), so it’s best to keep them in an airtight bag in the freezer to avoid them from molding or drying out too much.
Once you’ve saved enough rinds, all you basically have to do is boil them. You can keep the broth very basic, by simmering just the rinds in water and adding some salt and pepper to season it, but I like to add a few other flavorings such as onion, garlic and celery as well. After you’ve boiled your rinds, how to use your Parmesan broth? Well. It’s amazing when used as a broth to boil and serve little pasta such as tortellini and agnolotti in (tortellini/agnolotti in brodo), which is the best way to eat it, I think. Of course, it’s really great to use in mushroom, or cheese risotto to make it extra packed with umami as well and it forms a great base for vegetable- and bean soups too.
Note: While this broth does not use meat, real Parmigiano-Reggiano is technically not vegetarian because it is produced with rennet (which is usually procured from cow’s stomachs and thus involves the killing of animals). As such, I have not listed this as a vegetarian recipe.
Parmesan Rind Broth / Brodo di Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2 - 3 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
- 1 head of garlic, chopped in half horizontally
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ tablespoon black peppercorns
- 250g Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds (and/or Grana Padano rinds)
- 2l water
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
- Add the roughly chopped onion, celery, halved head of garlic, parsley, fresh thyme, fresh sage, bay leaves and peppercorns and sauté until the onion begins to soften and the herbs and spices become fragrant for about 10 minutes.
- Add the Parmesan rinds and pour over 2 liters of water. Bring to a soft simmer then turn the heat to low. Partially cover the stockpot with a lid and leave to simmer for 1 - 1.5 hours* until the stock has reduced slightly and tastes hearty and slightly concentrated. Whilst cooking, stir occasionally to stop the rinds from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Strain the stock and add salt and pepper to taste.