Each year, pastures in Emilia Romagna are sown with seeds of different grasses to give a varied and desired texture for the cows to enjoy. Because the cattle must follow the rule of grass feed for Parmigiano Reggiano there is careful and controlled feeding to ensure that the animals are getting the right amount of nutrients year-round. You will not see cattle grazing outside unless on very limited pasture as they are kept in open 'barns' where there is a constant supply of sweet grass and hay as well as water. This very pure fodder gives the milk its consistency and flavour.
So much goes into the making of a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano - there is certainly more to this cheese than meets the eye.
All the laws, recipe and traditions surrounding this cheese are guarded and overseen by the Consorzio, even down to the way the cheeses are stored and matured. Made with unpasteurised skimmed milk from accredited dairies within the allotted region, the rind is brine-bathed and slowly matured on wood shelves under close supervision, in keeping with tradition. The wheels are checked for size and flaws, and any not meeting the strict code are distinguished by scoring deep markings around the outside of the cheese so that they cannot be sold on by the black market as Parmigiano Reggiano (these marked cheeses are used for grating in the food production industry). We hand pick ours from the premier quality section, aged at least three years.
PARMIGIANO EVENT - 26 SEPTEMBER
PASSATELLI IN BRODO CON PARMIGIANO REGGIANO
Serves 4 as a first course
- 1 litre best-quality chicken broth
- 150 grams Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra for grating to serve
- 150 grams fine white breadcrumbs
- 3 free range eggs
- A pinch of grated nutmeg
- zest from 1/2 of a lemon
- salt & pepper
Bring the stock to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan. In the meantime mix together the remaining ingredients in a bowl. If the resulting mixture seems a bit too wet & sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time until it comes together as a soft dough. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Divide the mix into 4 balls & press the dough through a potato ricer to make small noodles - they should be at least 5cm long.
Gently drop the passatelli in the simmering broth and cook for just a couple minutes until they begin to float. Serve the passatelli with the broth & grate a generous amount of Parmigiano Reggiano on top to serve.