While I love to make fresh pasta on the weekends, for meals during the week I am definitely a dried pasta fan. It is quick and easy and means I can get a meal up on the table for us in around 15 minutes. In my Italian household growing up, my mothers dried pasta of choice is Barilla. It is the only brand she would ever buy and as a result I’m a devout Barilla user too.
As big as Barilla is, it is actually a family owned business (now run by fourth generation descendants of founder Pietro Barilla). The important thing about Barilla is that its head office is located in Parma. Now, why is this important? Because many of the greatest food items from Italy come from Parma – namely Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma.
I’m not sure if you know, but Barilla have just started running classes for the general public at their Casa Barilla building in Annandale, Sydney. I recently had the chance to attend a degustation masterclass all about Parmigiano Reggiano cheese led by Barilla Australia’s Executive Head Chef, Luca Ciano. Luca is one of those wonderfully friendly, bursting with personality, Italians and a masterclass with him is a night filled with red wine, fabulous food, laughter and entertainment (and at around $50 a head, it is amazing value!).
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Facts
- To be classified as Parmigiano Reggiano the cheese needs to come from the Emilia Romagna region in Italy (where Parma is located) and must use raw milk from local cows.
- It has to be aged a minimum of 12 months but can be anywhere between 12 – 46 months.
- The cheese you buy that says “Parmesan Cheese” on the label is made in the same way as Parmigiano Reggiano, but does not come from the Emilia Romagna region or even from Italy (think of it like Champagne v sparkling wine).
- 1100 liters of cows milk makes only 2 wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is the number one counterfeit item in Italy (it is counterfeit if it claims to be Parmigiano Reggiano but does not say it on the rind of the cheese)
As well as learning about the cheese, we were all treated to a four course degustation with cooking demonstrations accompanied by wonderful Italian wines. I’m delighted to be sharing Luca’s wonderful recipe for Parmigiano Reggiano souffle with you, but we also got to try egg tagliatelle with Parmigiano Reggiano and porcini sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano ice-cream with balsamic vinegar and Chianti poached pears with Parmigiano Reggiano mousse. Every dish an absolute treat!
Luca makes you feel like you are joining him at home while he cooks for his friends, and in that wonderfully relaxed environment, you feel engaged and entertained and leave with a very satisfied stomach.
Thanks to Barilla, I’m delighted to announce I have two places at the next degustation masterclass to give away, this one all about Prosciutto di Parma! The competition details can be found below and don’t forget to try Lucas’s spectacular recipe for Parmigiano Reggiano Souffle. PRIZE DRAWN SEE WINNER BELOW
Enter the Competition
Congratulations to Ashley Iredale on winning two places to the Prosciutto Masterclass!
Parmigiano Reggiano Souffle with Potato and Leek Sauce
Recipe by Luca Ciano, Barilla Australia executive chef
100g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
100g plain flour
2 cups fresh milk
10g unsalted butter, melted
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 leek, finely chopped
1 large potato, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan combine flour and milk and bring to a simmer while stirring. Just before it boils remove from the heat and stir in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Add the egg yolks one at a time, sitrring well between each addition, then season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
While the milk mixture is cooling, butter and flour four ramekins and beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the cooled milk mixture ensuring that you keep in as much air as possible, then fill the ramekins evenly with the mixture.
Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes (or until the top is risen and golden).
Meanwhile in a small saucepan, cook the leeks in a little oil, then add the potatoes and cover with the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and boil until the potatoes are cooked, then blend with an electric mixer. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove souffles from the oven and serve with a generous amount of sauce.
Chew Town would like to thank Barilla Australia for the invitation to attend Luca Ciano’s Parmigiano Reggiano Degustation Masterclass, and for providing two places to the Prosciutto di Parma Masterclass as a competition.