You can be daring with Parmigiano Reggiano: pairing works with starters, meat, fish and... Even with dessert!

It is a myth that needs to be dispelled that Parmigiano Reggiano is a product to be used only to add a touch of flavour to first courses. Great chefs use the King of Cheeses in the kitchen, pairing it with fruit and vegetables, to enhance meat and fish and even to prepare delicious desserts. The point of view of the Protection Consortium and of starred chef Luca Marchini, point of reference for the production area of the King of Cheeses and President of JRE ITALIA

Parma, 30 April 2019 – The key to the success of Parmigiano Reggiano, the most influential PDO brand in the world and leading PDO in terms of turnover (1.4 billion euros) is its  versatility. Parmigiano Reggiano is used in the kitchen not just for the traditional “sprinkling” over first courses, but also to give a touch of character to meat, fish and even desserts. This is the reason why the King of Cheeses is found in every country in the world, with an export share that grows every year and has already exceeded the goal of 40%. Thus, while it’s true that “good taste” is always required in the kitchen, it’s also true that different maturation stages provide different aromatic sensations and make Parmigiano Reggiano versatile in the kitchen, as it features in many dishes and pairings. If a “young” Parmigiano Reggiano of 12 months - delicate, with hints of milk, yoghurt and fresh fruit - is perfect for enriching salads and combines perfectly with a sparkling white wine, a 36-month old cheese, on the other hand, has a stronger flavour - with notes of spices, nuts and meat stock - and is the ideal ingredient in stuffed pastas, or to be enjoyed at the end of a meal with fruit and honey, paired with a complex wine, a good Marsala or even a Trentino Grappa. Parmigiano Reggiano is an eclectic ingredient: Japanese cooks use it to give a touch of umami to their dishes, just as the Alfredo alla Scrofa restaurant uses it to great effect in the original Alfredo fettuccine that have become famous around the world, thanks to the perfect blending of the goodness of fettuccine, Parmigiano Reggiano and butter in this simple and sensational dish. There is a Parmigiano Reggiano for all tastes and all occasions. And it’s not just a question of maturation stages, but of cow breeds as well. There is the Modena White Cow, the Reggiana Red Cow, the Brown Cow and the Italian Friesian. Just as there are “certified” products that meet all kinds of needs: from Mountain product to Kosher, Halal and Organic.  As for fish, to us the pairing with Parmigiano Reggiano does not seem daring at all. Let’s think for example of Mornay Sauce, which our French cousins serve with shellfish, or of the Northern European custom of grating Parmigiano Reggiano over seafood pasta. It’s simply a question of taste! The fish-cheese combination is an established tradition:  Middle Eastern cuisine, for instance, often uses the acid notes of dairy products (such as yoghurt) to balance the rich and fatty taste of some fish. 

Parmigiano Reggiano is not just a product of excellence, but also and above all an extremely versatile product,” points out Luca Marchini, Modena-based starred chef and president of JRE Italia (Jeunes Restaurateurs). “If we think about it, some of the more traditional dishes in Italian cuisine combine fish and cheese. Just to mention one: Stuffed Calamari can be filled with parsley, garlic, ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano and chopped squid. Moving on to a creative use, envisaging my squid cooked on a kamado, I could think of adding a very thin crumble layer made with Parmigiano Reggiano, flour, butter and liquorice. What’s more, all fish risottos could have Parmigiano Reggiano stirred into them. For example, a classic dish of mine, which was on the menu until a short time ago, was Risotto with extract of oven-baked leeks, rocket, cream of 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano, oysters and raw rhubarb.  Today, at L’Erba del Re restaurant, Parmigiano Reggiano is also a pre-dessert dish: “Shaving of Parmigiano”, that is, a shell of white chocolate, a heart of 30-month Parmigiano Reggiano, black cherry jam (no added sugar),  and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. The choice of a 30 month maturation period for this dish is given by the need to achieve greater texture and complexity in the mouth" concludes Luca Marchini.