The region of Emilia Romana in northern Italy is famous for its Parmesan cheese. Most of the Parmesan you buy doesn’t have the intense creamy flavour of this Parmigiano-Reggiano – known as the ‘king of cheeses’. Luckily The Sussex Kitchen has sourced an excellent supply of it for you.
After some research (including lots of tasting of course!), The Sussex Kitchen discovered the fascinating story behind this sumptuous cheese made from the milk of a particular regional breed of cow.
Some 800 years ago, the Benedictine monks discovered a way to make Parmesan cheese from the milk of the Vacche Rosse. Reggiana is home to this breed. Over the years the Vacche Rosse dwindled to only a few hundred and nearly disappeared. Thanks to the popularity of Parmigiano Reggiano in the 1950s/80s, this pure breed re-surfaced to be farmed in Parma and Reggio Emilia.
Strict controls are in place for breeding these cows, keeping their well-being and quality of their milk at the top of the agenda. The cows are fed on grass and hay and no GMO foods.
Compared to other breeds they produce smaller quantities of milk which contains a unique and essential protein, making for a smoother ageing process of the cheese. Once produced, the huge wheels of cheese are regularly checked and age over twenty-four months as opposed to the general twelve.
Only the best receive the stamp of the Vacche Rossa logo – the red cow – a unique brand. The final result is a smooth creamy texture making digestion easier, the taste is fabulous.
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To be enjoyed with a refreshing glass of locally grown spumante Lambrusco, it can also be accompanied by a full-bodied red or white wine, perhaps an aromatic Malvasia.
This Parmesan biscuit recipe is a favourite and very moreish.
100g Parmigiano Reggiano
3/4 cup of Plain flour
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 egg yolk
Heat the oven to 180°C.
Mix the butter, Parmesan, and flour together with the Cayenne Pepper and add the poppy seeds.
Refrigerate for 30 mins. Then roll out between two layers of baking parchment. Cut rounds from the pastry using a pastry cutter, brush lightly with beaten egg yolk. Bake for 6-8 mins cool and serve.