Parmesan rind possibilities
June 23, 2021 12:00 PM   Subscribe

My favorite sublime pizza restaurant has an open kitchen and uses imported Parmesan wheels, which they grate for all their Parmesan needs. I'm a regular and after a casual request for extra rinds, the staff now bags up and gifts at least a quart of rinds at every visit. Which is pretty often since my grandkids request eating there every time I see them. I now have about a gallon of rinds, and a seemingly endless future supply. I'm looking for expanded ideas about how to use them to punch up the deliciousness of stocks, sauces, and soups, risotto, etc.

I have made Parmesan stock, added them to simmering tomato sauce and have used stock to make minestrone. Having never considered how to use vast amounts of rinds, I'm looking for help here. I feel like I need to look outside the obvious Italian cuisine lane, or fall infinitely deeper into it. Either way I would love some suggestions.
posted by citygirl to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
This Smitten Kitchen Oven Risotto is Tuesday night easy and uses a bunch of parmesan rinds.

If you have a dog, smallish chunks parmesan rind are the Ultimate Training Treat (and can be really challenging to get out of kongs if you have a busy dog who needs brain tasks).
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 12:17 PM on June 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

[eta: you got minestrone already. good!] but also all of the versions of white bean/black kale soups (ribollita, etc.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:23 PM on June 23, 2021

this is out of left field, but WHAT WOULD HAPPEN if you boiled the pasta for, say, carbonara or cacio e pepe, in parmesan broth???!!!
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:25 PM on June 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm weird but I just eat the rinds. First, before the rest of the cheese chunk. They have twice the flavor of the softer part. They are hard and this has led to two cracked teeth which required root canals, but I still eat the rinds.
posted by beagle at 12:29 PM on June 23, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I can't find a copy online, but in the winter I often make a simple soup/stew from Mark Bittman like so:

Chop up into bite-sized pieces one of those end pieces of prosciutto you can buy in one chunk at the deli. Brown it in a medium stock pot (you can use some olive oil if you like, or it's fatty enough to render on its own). Throw in some chopped garlic and saute it in the rendered fat. Add 4-6 cups of water (4 if you want it to end up more like a stew, 6 if you want a soup). Salt the water lightly (the other ingredients are fairly salty) and bring to boil. Add parmesan rind chopped into bite-sized pieces. Wait a couple of minutes, then add a few oz. of orzo or other small pasta and cook for usual time, but add spinach or other soup green near the end. Take it off the heat when the spinach tastes done and the pasta is cooked through. Drizzle with a nice olive oil if you like. If you used the 4 cups, it will be a little soupy but the longer you wait the more liquid the orzo will absorb--overnight it will become like a pasta dish. If you used more water, it will stay soupier longer.

This is a very flexible and forgiving dish, but it has solid flavor from the proscuitto and parmesan.
posted by praemunire at 12:31 PM on June 23, 2021 [9 favorites]

I'll throw in a bit of rind if I have it while making all sorts of things, such as soup or stew or a pot of rice - essentially, anything savory and liquid-based (as opposed to sauteed, fried, etc.). Even if the rind doesn't fully melt into the food, it still flavors it; and the softened remainder is pretty tasty just on its own as a Cook's Treat!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:46 PM on June 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One of my favorite soups of recent years is the incredibly delicious Roberto from Helen Rosner. This soup is very forgiving and I regularly add extra vegetables that need to be used up. I also add extra fennel seeds because they're delightful in this soup. It's also how I used up every last bit of my freezer hoard of parm rinds. Now, I substitute a big scoop of white miso for the missing rinds, but if I came across a mother lode like you have, a lot of rinds would be going into Roberto. I love this soup and eat it in every season.

Rinds freeze super well and if you have a friend who cooks, I can't imagine a more welcome gift. I'd fall over in ecstasy if offered a quart of rinds.
posted by quince at 1:06 PM on June 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Soup. I put them in polenta (and grits) and it is a noticeable change for the good. I even tried then in oatmeal and liked it there, too.

GRIPE: Although I have been an avid user of Parmesan rinds, mostly for soup, sometime during COVID, the stores near me all stopped selling Parmesan rinds.

This coincides with many of the stores switching to a third-party vendor, Murray Cheese, to run their cheese counters. When I ask about the where the rinds went, I have twice received the ridiculous answer: "What would we do with the rest of the cheese?"
posted by bz at 1:08 PM on June 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

This coincides with many of the stores switching to a third-party vendor, Murray Cheese, to run their cheese counters. When I ask about the where the rinds went, I have twice received the ridiculous answer: "What would we do with the rest of the cheese?"

This is peculiar, because Murray's, though now owned by a large supermarket chain that I'm guessing is the one near you, is still probably the most sophisticated cheese store in NYC. When I lived closer, that's where I'd buy the parmesan and prosciutto ends I used in the recipe above.
posted by praemunire at 1:18 PM on June 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These cooks happened to reach the end of a prosciutto while we were eating today, and they tossed that in, too. I will happily take advantage. Polenta, now that you mentioned it bz, seems a natural. I think praemunire's suggestion will become part of our regular rotation, as long as the goodies keep coming.

Moral of this story is to be nice to the cooks, and consider tipping - this is much more natural if it's an open kitchen. They are so rarely included in the tipping pool and as an ex-restaurant line cook I always resented this, and now try hard to recognize them.
posted by citygirl at 2:34 PM on June 23, 2021 [10 favorites]

Make a variation on Heston's Mac and cheese
posted by quacks like a duck at 2:38 PM on June 23, 2021

I turn mine into delicious cheese puffs using the power of my microwave.
posted by hoboynow at 2:41 PM on June 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My mother stuffs a whole chicken with Parmesan rinds and sometimes halved lemons, and roasts it. I think she got it from a celebrity cooking show, but don't know where. Can confirm, her roast chicken is amazing.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 4:30 PM on June 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

If you want to impress someone/yourself with "fancy" stuff, one of the best things I've ever cooked was a pizza consommé made with cheese rind stock, tomato, and pepperoni and then gel clarified.
posted by lhputtgrass at 4:41 PM on June 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

This isn't the exact recipe I use (can't find right now; this is close), but making Cranberry Bean Pasta Fagioli was the first time I'd ever made a parmesan rind soup base, and it is delicious.
posted by msbrauer at 5:33 PM on June 23, 2021

I can’t find it anywhere, but I remember when the Prune cookbook came out, it had a chapter for “trash ingredients” you know, the things that would normally get thrown out. There was a recipe for an egg drop soup that involved making a Parmesan broth and then swirling any combination of egg yolks and whites (or just use whole eggs) and adding whatever else you may have- green onions, spinach.
I think making risotto and tossing a Parmesan rind in as you’re cooking would be an awesome way to use a parm rind to it’s fullest potential.
I’ve also made white beans from scratch and added a Parmesan rind in at the beginning of the boiling processes.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 5:17 AM on June 24, 2021

When you say parm stock, do you mean parm broth? I could have a freezer full of pucks of these and still want more.

Parm Broth
Use this rich and versatile broth in vegetable soups, instant-supper pastas, such as Capellini en Brodo, and beans in need of a boost.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
1 bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
3–4 parsley sprigs
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound Parmesan rinds
Recipe Tips
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and peppercorns, stirring often, until garlic is deep brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, scraping up any brown bits, until liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
Add Parmesan rinds and 8 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent cheese from sticking to bottom of pot, until broth is flavorful and reduced by half, about 2 hours.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl (or an airtight container if making ahead).
DO AHEAD: Broth can be made 4 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.
Recipe by Dawn Perry
posted by Riverine at 6:39 PM on June 24, 2021

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