How to CookItalian

How to Make Parmesan Broth + 6 Ways to Use It

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Turn your Parmesan rinds into a flavorful base for soups, stews, and risottos.

Parmesan Broth

A number of clever soup recipes -- like minestrone, for one -- ask you to toss a Parmesan rind into your broth as it simmers. It goes the way of a bay leaf, adding a nice bump to the soup's overall flavor but seeming, ultimately, like an afterthought. It mostly makes you feel better about using up your food scraps.

But those rinds have a huge amount of flavor tucked inside their hard, nubbly skin, and deserve to be at the forefront of your soups, your stews -- and your stock. If you're treating yourself to the good stuff -- and you should be -- turning your Parmesan rinds into a rich, cheesy broth is the best way to get the most bang out of your aged, funky, Italian buck. 

Here's how to make it:

After grating your prized Parmesan over pastas and salads, save your rinds in an airtight container or zip-top bag, either in the refigerator or freezer. Once you have roughly a cup of rinds, you're ready to go.

Parmesan Broth

First, make sure your rinds are clean: Rinse them, and trim off any moldy or iffy-looking bits. You can add rinds from other cheeses, too, to create your own gran cru of a broth. Just as your vegetable stock will change with the seasons, your Parmesan broth will change according to last week's recipes; cheddar and other hard cheeses work particularly well.

In a large pot, cover your rinds with plenty of water; a good rule of thumb is eight cups of water for every cup of rinds, but this is by no means a rigid formula. Anyways, a longer cooking time will always get you a deeper end result.

Parmesan Broth

If you'd like, you can add alliums and other stock-friendly vegetables here, like carrots and celery; the ladies from Cowgirl Creamery like to add mushrooms, too. But you'll still get rich flavor -- and a kitchen that smells, beautifully, like cheese -- if you use rinds and nothing else. Anyways, those alliums can always come later, sautéed as a base for your dinner. 

Bring the water to a boil, then simmer it for an hour or two, or until it's as flavorful as you like. Either use it immediately, or let it cool, and store it; it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, and in the freezer for three months. (If you freeze it, be sure to leave some room at the top of your container, as it will expand.)

Here are our six favorite ways to use Parmesan broth -- be sure to share yours in the comments!

1. Minestrone, plus any other vegetable-based soups or stews

2. Pots of beans. Parmesan broth goes especially well with white beans and greens, like escarole or kale.

3. Risotto, which turns into a nose-to-tail cheese dish after a handful of Parmesan is stirred in at the end.

4. Deglazing a pan, and then turning everything into a sexy little pan sauce (Go ahead, add some cream.)

5. Braising, from vegetables to chicken legs to short ribs

6. Stuffing or savory bread pudding, with plenty of fresh herbs

Tell us: How do you like to use up your Parmesan rinds?

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: Risotto, Stock, Stew, Soup, Cheese, Parmesan, DIY Food, How-To & Diy