What to do with all those Parmigiano rinds
Early on in Nate Appleman's debut cookbook, "A16: Food + Wine," the San Francisco chef pauses to outline his pantry. Between entries for bread crumbs and cheese, Appleman discusses brodo, or broth made from "what's on hand in the kitchen." In his kitchen, this includes the rinds from hard cheeses such as Grana Padano and Parmigiano-Reggiano, which he uses to make a simple cheese brodo (2 quarts water, 6 ounces cheese rinds, 1 bay leaf). Although I've been saving my rinds and tossing them in stocks and soups and pots of beans for years, this was the first time I'd seen a specific recipe for the broth in a cookbook.
Cheese brodo is fantastic stuff, simple, easy and inherently thrifty. It's a great way to justify the expense of high quality cheese -- if you needed another -- and it's easier to make than tossing a bouquet garni into a pot of water. For bean soups, you can even eliminate a step and drop the rinds into your pot of sauteed onions, dried beans, bay leaf and water. (Here's a link to a lovely summer minestrone recipe from former Test Kitchen Director Donna Deane that uses Parmigiano rinds.) The resulting flavor is awesome: nutty, earthy, with a terrific meaty complexity that's a nice plus for vegetarians. (Note to meat eaters: Appleman's book includes a recipe for prosciutto brodo too.) The pasta e fagioli soup I made over the weekend was so good, in fact, that I grated down my last big block of cheese (above, right) just to get the rind for another pot.
"A16: Food + Wine," by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren with Kate Leahy, (Ten Speed Press: $35).
-- Amy Scattergood
Photo of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind by Amy Scattergood