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Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)

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"Parmigiano-Reggiano is a grana, a hard, granular cheese, cooked but not pressed, named after the producing areas of Parma and Reggio Emilia, in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Parmigiano is simply the Italian adjective for Parma; the French version, parmesan, is used in English. The term parmesan is also loosely used as a common term for cheeses imitating true Parmesan cheese, especially outside Europe; it is a protected name in Europe. More precisely, such cheeses are known as grana. Parmigiano Reggiano is made from raw cow's milk. Only milk produced between May 1 and November 11 is used in producing the true Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the whole milk of the morning milking is mixed with the naturally skimmed milk of the previous evening's milking resulting in a part skim mixture. The milk is pumped into copper lined vats (copper heats quickly and cools quickly). There are 1,100 liters of milk per vat, producing two cheeses each. The curd making up each wheel at this point weighs around 45 kg (100 lb). The remaining whey in the vat was traditionally used to feed the pigs from which Parma Hams (Prosciutto) are produced. The barns for these animals were usually just a few yards away from the cheese production rooms."

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      16.03.2014 13:34
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      Good ingredient!

      I hope my cheese reviews aren't becoming too boring. I love to cook and have really wanted to do some food/recipe reviews and cheese is my passion so it makes sense that this is what I would review! Parmigiano-reggiano aka parmesan cheese isn't my favourite but it is probably the cheese I use the most in my cooking. It has a strong, pungent taste and is very dry and great for grating very finely and stirring into dishes or sprinkling on top. I tend to buy it already finely grated, usually in a 100g pouch for about £1.50. It works out cheaper just to buy a solid block but due to pure laziness I get the ready-grated stuff every time. You can buy a tub of Parmesan shavings too but I've never bought this. I always buy my parmesan from the chilled section of the supermarket but you can get tubs of it from the non-chilled section (usually located with things like tomato purée) but in my opinion these aren't very nice, and they absolutely stink (not in a good way). A tub of this could be a handy staple to have in though as it doesn't go out of date for months and months. My favourite parmesan recipes include: Risotto balls - I know these have a proper name which I don't know, but I do know how to make them! Cook a normal risotto using arborio rice, garlic, onion, and any other finely chopped veg you like. Stir in Parmesan at the end and then leave it to cool and set. Once the risotto is cold and quite firm stir in more parmesan and seasoning, shape the mix into balls, roll each one in whisked egg then breadcrumbs and bake for 20 mins (you could fry them but I try and save a few calories). Pesto sauce - using a hand blender or food processor blend 50g of fresh basil leaves and 25g rocket. Then add two chopped garlic cloves and 120g parmesan and blend again. Stir in 150g fat free from age frais and blend again. Makes four portions and is great mixed through pasta or if you put it in the fridge it hardens a bit and makes a great dip. Calorie-wise, parmesan is about the same as most other cheeses, you get about 30g for about 100 calories. However, with parmesan you feel you're getting a lot for your calories, when it's finely grated it's so light that you weigh out 30g and it seems a lot! Also it has a strong flavour meaning you don't need to use loads.

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        14.09.2008 22:39
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        don't accept substitutes buy proper parmigiano reggiano to make the most of the health benefits.

        Parmigiano is described here in Italy as the most complete food for humans aside from mother's milk. However perhaps it may surprise some to learn that it is so highly regarded that we actually use it as one of the first weaning foods for babies. I was certainly a little intrigued when my paediatrician gave me baby food recipes for my then 4 month old son and each contained a good portion of parmigiano. However I was frequently being told by family how pure, safe and healthy this cheese is and therefore did not think to question this wisdom. Parmigiano is truly an amazing foodstuff and anyone who considers the flavour too intense or strong, I urge you to buy the real thing, open your mind and try it again. Heralding from the region between Parma and Reggio Emilia, the recipe for this cheese remains unchanged for the last 800 years and it is greatly imitated. However you simply cannot beat the original bought fresh in terms of health benefits and flavour. It is best bought in a big block so that you can see the Parmigiano Reggiano mark branded into the skin. Then it can be grated freshly onto food or into whatever dish is being prepared. It is also truly wonderful cut into little chunks and snacked upon throughout a meal. Parmigiano is considered an essential ingredient in Italy. If we get lower than a days supply in the refrigerator, somebody must run out and rectify the situation. It would be a disaster akin to running out of milk or bread. It is a vital condiment for most pasta and rice dishes (excluding some with fish and seafood) as well as integral to the actual cooking of many other meat and vegetable courses. Here it costs about 5 euro for a 400g block, in the UK I have bought it recently for about £5 for 200g. 570 litres of milk go into the making of each huge block of parmigiano, and the dairy process is particularly complex. Each block is then carefully monitored as it matures over a 24 month period. The precious result is the most protein rich cheese in existence, rich in calcium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A and B. It also encourages the development of healthy bacteria in the intestine. Interestingly it is also virtually lactose free, as an early result of its unique dairy process. This is particularly useful for those avoiding or allergic to lactose. One of the best aspects of parmigiano is that it is VERY quickly and easily digestible. It can be digested in 45 minutes, whereas meat for example can take at least 4 hours. The fats contained in the cheese are also very easily digested and processed by the human body. Therefore this is a great cheese for dieting (in moderation of course), in fact I have lost a stone in the last 2 months while eating this everyday. It is also recommended for the elderly and frail, babies (as I mentioned before) and growing teenagers as a health food. Even athletes in Italy like to eat a small block of parmigiano prior to training to make use of its nutritive properties and quick energy release. Quite simply the best and healthiest cheese in the world. Go and seek some proper Parmigiano Reggiano at once (not the dried unrefrigerated parmesan rubbish in a tub, which probably is not even Italian) and enjoy happy in the knowledge that it is very good for you. In future I shall put a few parmigiano recipes in the cheese section, do check them out.

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          28.05.2008 09:45
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          One of my favourite cheeses

          I like cheese very much. Although modern theories of alimentation state that too much cheese is not good, as a matter of fact I eat cheese at home at least 4-5 evenings per week. I eat cheese with a good bottle of red wine, unfortunately to find good bread in UK is not that easy! Parmesan cheese is the only cheese I eat away from dinner! Parmesan cheese comes from Italy and is very peculiar. It is normally sold in verly large forms, but in uk it is packaged in boxes of 125 or 250 gramms. I try to get it from Italy when I can, but it is more expensive, it can cost in excess of 20 pounds per kilo, for a very good one. There is an italian delicatessen near Islington where I some time go to buy some food, including Parmesan cheese. I eat Parmesan cheese during the day as well becaues it is very easy to digest and is very rich in proteins. I recommend Parmesan to those who do sport, to young and old people ad everyone who likes cheese.

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            06.04.2008 14:18
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            One of the best

            Parmesan cheese is in my view a unique cheese with a unique flavour and taste. It is produced in the region around Parma, not far from Bologna. There are 2 types of Parmesan cheese, each of them with their pre defined area of origin, Parmigiano, and Reggiano, the second comes from the region around Reggio Emilia. Parmesan cheese or very rich and can be used as a starter as well as a dessert. If you do endurance sport, it can also be used during your effort. You can grate it over cheese, or just take a piece. Most supermarkets now store it, although the real thing in Italy is still sublime pleasure! If you have a cave where you can store cheese, Parmesan can last very long, however, in my experience the weather in UK is not helping and it is hard to find such a place. Thank you for reading.

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              17.11.2006 12:05
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              Finding a good Parmesan Cheese is almost as difficult as pronouncing the right name .. Parmigiano

              Paremesan Cheese .. or more correctly, although difficult to pronounce, Parmigiano Reggiano is branded with the name of its producer, every wheel is numbered, and the maker's oval is sealed with flame. Beware a rind crossed with oblique (not straight) lines for this indicates an imperfect specimen. Ideally an organic version that has been aged and then one can understand why people shun the plastic supermarket versions. It is possible to find supplies in the UK but I don't yet see anything listed here.

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                05.02.2002 14:25
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                There is only one cheese in the whole world that I eat and ever have done, and, surprise surprise, it’s parmesan (hence the star rating). I was thinking this as I ever so cleverly grated my fingernails instead of the cheese itself the other day while cooking tea (damn you Tesco, for withdrawing the pre-grated stuff from sale at my local store), and since I wasn’t sure what to write on next, I thought this’ll do. Parmigiano Reggiano (aka Parmesan) originated in the north of Italy, and the best varieties are still produced in this area today. For over 700 years it was hand made, and even today it is produced without “the impersonal brutalities of metal” according to the official website (how can a cheese have an official website???). Anyway, it takes at least two years to mature naturally and during this time, according to the aforementioned website, the cheeses are “cared for, and watched, a process not without risks and anxieties, because the miracle of a perfect ripening is left essentially to nature”. Aww bless. While all Parmiagiano Reggiano is parmesan, not all parmesan is Parmiagiano Reggiano – only those firms who use these methods can claim the full title, while the dried cr*p that comes in tubs from Tesco or Safeway can only be classed as parmesan. There’s even a law (passed in 1992) on the topic. I’m a firm believer that a good way to judge Italian restaurants is on the type they serve – with only a full 5 stars going to those who grate it over your food for you. Although it might be quicker for them to grate it in advance, this method also releases some of the flavour into the air before you even arrive at the restaurant. Parmesan is one of very few cheeses recommended for those of all ages – in Italy, paediatricians advise parents to add it to baby food, meanwhile geriatric specialists recommend it to the elderly too. While it is marketed as a “health y” cheese, it’s very high in fat, so you should try and limit yourself if you’re watching your weight. This is again where buying fresh rather than dried comes in, since the flavour in the former is much stronger, thus limiting the amount you need. It’s usually a pale yellow colour, but for some reason they have a bright white version on sale in Austria. Whatever the colour, it always tastes fabulous. Parmesan can last a long time unopened, and even once you’ve begun to sprinkle or grate, it can last at least a month in the fridge. It’s perfect for pasta, but also nice with soups, and on toast as an alternative to your standard processed slices. Or, add it to rice or vegetables for added protein and heaps of flavour. Fancy restaurants serve shavings over Cesar salad for variety, and although I don’t generally eat eggs, I’ve seen it being added to Omelettes. Typical prices : 50g Fresh Parmesan Shavings - £0.99 (Tesco) 100g Fresh Grated Parmesan - £1.80 (Safeway)

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                  14.08.2001 20:03
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                  I had never been a fan of parmesan cheese, having only sampled it dried from plastic containers. And frankly its smell reminded me of baby sick - and how can you eat and enjoy something like that?? Then a trip to Rome in March changed my opinion forever, working for a national newspaper I sold some ad space to the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese company. I decided to purchase some from the country of origin. Having carefully practised my pronounciation and the phrase to use when ordering from the deli, I got to sample some of the cheese! WEll... what a melt in the mouth experience from Heaven. Purchased a huge block which being a hard cheese lasted for 3 months in my fridge! Now a pasta dish in my home is not complete without a fresh grating of the scrumptious cheese. Trust me try it and you'll buy it forever!!!!

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                    04.06.2001 03:14
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                    Arguably the best cheese, but once you taste it, i doubt you will argue. It has a taste, which will melt in your mouth, and it will definetly agree with your fod palette. It is one of the most original cheese, made in Parma, in Italy, and it is most commonly associated as an accompaniment with pasta dishes. If you are a lover of pasta, than you are most likely to like parmesan too. It compliments the pasta so well, and it is a perfect accompaniment, and a great dressing. It can be quite versatile too, as it can go into a salad, or go into a salad dressing. Obviously, it is better fresh, but if you dwon't use it immediately, the packets or tubs of it, are still as nice, and still taste quite fresh. Overall, it is one of the best accompaniments for a meal, especially Italian, and it compliments dishes well, with its superb taste, and fresh smell.

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                      09.05.2001 19:50
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                      Most people by this cheese in little plastic boxes, and get somethign that tastes a bit like cheese. Pre grated is not the way to go. If you want this cheese, the best way to get it is in blocks, and then grate it yourself to add to pasta dishes or soups. It does have a very strong flavour and smell which not everyone will like. The one big downside with parmesan is the cost. It may well be the most expensive cheese in your supermarket, easily three times the price of humble cheddar. This is a cheese for serious enthusiasts or people with no shortage of money. As for the little plasitc tubs? I wouldn't bother. If you can't afford the real thing, get a decent chedddar and grate that over your pasta - its a better option.

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                        01.04.2001 22:04
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                        Parmigiano is a typical Italian hard-cheese, mostly used to dress pasta and salad dishes, but it can be eaten on its own with bread or pears (as the connoisseurs) do. Parmigiano has its origins in Northern Italy, more precisely in the areas around Parma and Reggio Emilia. Parmigiano is called "the great cheese of eight centuries" because the ancient formula has remained unchanged throughout 800 years of history which has transformed the face of continents. Today's cheese is the same as that enjoyed by the armoured knights, bonded serfs and saints of history. Records dating back to 1200-1300 AD describe the characteristics of Parmigiano as they have been handed down to this day. Indeed, in order to call their product "Parmigiano", modern producers have to adhere to strict controls. For instance, the cheese has to age for at least 12 months (preferably 36) and has to be produced with the best quality milk only. In terms of versatility, Parmigiano can virtually be used on all pasta dishes (except those based on fish). The most popular and tasty pairing is with ragu' sauce, known outside of Italy as "bolognese" sauce. The rich wine-based tomatoe and meat sauce provides a great counter-balance to the strong taste of Parmigiano. In modern times, the Americans have invented the Ceaser salad, a salad with croutons, parmisan cheese and cream. Though not being a particular fan of this salad dressing, I can't help sprinkle or chop a few bits of parmigiano on my salads. Additionally, Parmigiano can be used as starter, for example, together with breasaola (ham made from cows) olive oil and rocket, or with pears, a recipe invented by Italian friars in the middle ages who could not escape the sinful taste of this wonderful cheese. The only negative about this cheese is that it is expensive. In most parts of the world, parmisan cheese (the original) is too expensive to eat at home and can only be t asted at restaurants. As far as I can say, if you are a cheese lover, Parmigiano has to be part of your top-3 cheeses.

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