Parmigiano Reggiano – A little background information
As a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, Parmigiano Reggiano must be produced in a small area of northern Italy (including the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and Mantua to the left of the river Po, and Bologna to the left of the river Reno). It is here that Parmigiano is made with all- natural production methods and absolutely no additives or preservatives. After a minimum of a 12-month period of maturation, every wheel of cheese is individually quality checked to ensure its fit for consumers.
Parmigiano Reggiano dates all the way back to the Middle Ages when monks were its first producers. Driven by the quest to make cheese that lasted a long time, they allowed it to mass dry and increased the wheel size too. Today, Parmigiano Reggiano is made with very few changes to the production process over the years, and every single stage of the production (right down to the grating of the cheese) must occur in its area of origin in northern Italy. You can buy Parmigiano Reggiano in all major UK supermarkets and most delis.
Parmigiano Reggiano Mousse – Served with a lemon, thyme, & Parmigiano Reggiano biscotti
A light and decadent shallot and Parmigiano Reggiano mousse steeped with wine and whipped offering a subtle salty taste with a fantastic aroma. Serve the Parmigiano Reggiano mousse alongside an early evening aperitivo with a platter and selection of olives, vegetables in oil and a meat platter. The mousse is light and would benefit from being scooped up on the tip of a lemon and thyme biscotti.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8 depending on the size of your glasses
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large banana shallot, peeled, finely chopped
150ml white wine or vermouth
1 litre fresh double cream
1 sprig of thyme
250g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Salt & pepper, to season as required
• Into a medium heavy based sauté pan pour in the extra virgin olive oil and add the shallots. Gently bring the oil to a low heat and soften the shallots, stirring intermittently with a wooden spoon, this will take approximately 5 minutes.
• Once the shallots have softened add the white wine or vermouth and reduce by half.
• Gently pour in the double cream and stir. Be mindful of the heat now as you do not want the cream to catch at the base.
• Add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and stir to fully incorporate and ensure it melts fully. Cook slowly for 10 minutes.
• Pass the cream mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl to remove the shallots.
• Chill the mixture at room temperature for 30 minutes then transfer to the fridge for a further hour.
• Whilst the mixture chills you can make the delicately scented biscotti.
• Once the mixture has chilled, simply whip with an electric whisk and spoon into small glasses. Grate over a little more lemon zest for an optional flourish.
Lemon thyme & Parmigiano Reggiano biscotti
Biscotti; Bis meaning twice and cotti meaning to cook. A twice cooked biscuit with a fantastic structure and world recognised crunch. These biscotti, however, are a savoury twist on a traditional and classic treat that you would have with your mid-morning espresso or after dinner. The salty Parmigiano Reggiano adds a wonderful depth of flavour that pairs exceptionally well with the delicate Parmigiano Reggiano mousse. That said, the biscotti would make a great addition to a summer picnic, a perfect add on to a savoury lunch and even draped with a sheet of cured meat and enjoyed as part of your aperitivo. The flavour can also be changed and adapted to what you have currently in your home store. Some pistachio nuts or hazelnuts would give them a further crunch where some drunken wine-soaked raisins would add a deep richness.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Makes: Approximately 20 biscotti
125g 00 flour plus extra for dusting
130g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
60g butter, unsalted, chopped into small cubes
1 small lemon, zest
½ tsp salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 large free-range egg
1 tablespoon honey – I used borage honey
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, no stems
• Preheat the oven 180C (fan assisted)
• Into a large bowl combine both the flour and the grated Parmigiano Reggiano Stir to fully combine.
• Tumble in the chopped butter and scatter in the lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
• Using your fingertips rub the butter into the dry ingredients to form large breadcrumbs.
• Crack in the egg, add a tablespoon of honey and add the thyme leaves.
• Use a wooden spoon to combine the mixture into a ball of dough.
• Line a baking tray with parchment or baking paper.
• Lightly flour your work surface. Tumble out the dough and cut it in half.
• Form each piece of dough into two small flat forms, measuring approximately 16cm x 9cm with a depth of 2cm.
• Bake the dough for 15 minutes.
• Then remove from the oven and transfer the two biscuits onto a wooden board. Taking a sharp knife, cut the dough into 2cm widths.
• Lay the biscotti back onto the baking tray, cut side down and bake for a further 5 minutes.
• Once baked remove the biscotti from the oven and allow to cool on a wired rack.
• Serve alongside your Parmigiano Reggiano mousse or enjoy as an alternative addition to a cured meat and cheese platter.