Parmesan cheese may be best known as a topping within the United States. Sprinkle a little on your pasta, pizza, or soup, and put it back in the fridge. But to turophiles and Europeans this may be deemed blasphemy, as this cheese is produced and consumed much differently! Couple this with the Parmesan cheese ingredient scandal in the 2010s and there is just a lot of confusion and misinformation about this beloved cheese and how best to enjoy it. Today we win back Parmesan with cheese origins, recipe ideas, and insights on how to choose the best Parmesan cheese!
Putting the Parma in Parmesan cheese (or not)
Parmesan cheese is known as a hard, granular, straw-colored cheese made from cow’s milk, aged typically for 12 months or longer. It’s typically described as rich, nutty, and sometimes fruity. Not shockingly, Parmesan cheese originated in northern Italy, using milk from cows in and around the Parma province as early as the 12th century.
In the U.S., the term “Parmesan” is used generically and somewhat loosely, as it’s the domestic translation for Parmigiano Reggiano. In 1992, Parmigiano Reggiano achieved Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) designation, meaning it’s only produced in specific regions of Italy following specific criteria like the use of only three ingredients – milk, rennet, and salt. Furthermore, in 2008 courts in Europe decided Parmigiano Reggiano is the only cheese that can legally be called Parmesan.
If you’re looking to enjoy Italian-made Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which many deem “the best Parmesan,” consider purchasing a wheel or wedge with the Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP) mark ensuring its origin and traditional production method. Or, if you’re fortunate to travel to northern Italy, you’re sure to find this cheese in practically everything on restaurant menus!
While Parmesan cheese made in America is not produced by Italian specifications and some would argue that the best Parmesan cheese can’t be found in the U.S. (clearly they haven’t tried our Copper Kettle), it’s widely and deliciously available. If you’re an Italian loyalist, we challenge you to head to your store and give Cello’s Parmesan a try. Read on to learn our favorite ways to enjoy one of our favorite cheeses.
Choosing the best Parmesan for…
Grated Parmesan may be the most convenient and popular way to consume this sharp cheese, and while we think it’s pretty grate, it’s not always the right Parmesan for your cheese needs. Check out this chart to guide you in choosing the best Parmesan cheese:
|Grated Parmesan||Because grated Parmesan melts quickly, it’s optimally used sprinkled on pizza or soup (i.e. already prepared food), as well as in homemade pasta sauce recipes.|
|Shredded/Shaved Parmesan||Merlot, For a more artistic topping on salad, choose shaved or shredded Parmesan. It also provides texture to casseroles, risotto, and baked dishes.|
|Chiseled Parmesan||Feeling snackish? Try chiseled Parmesan like Cello Copper Kettle Chisels for a poppable treat! Mix it up with some pieces of chocolate and nuts for a twist on trail mix. When in doubt, just pair with a glass of Chardonnay.|
|Block Parmesan||It’s no chip off the ol’ block! Slice Parmesan for use in sandwiches or consider grating it for a super fresh topping experience. It’s truly revolutionary.|
The best Parmesan cheese recipes
There are numerous atypical ways to enjoy Parmesan! The Cello team is always finding unique recipes, including these favorites:
- Parmesan Mac & Cheese – think cheddar has to dominate this go-to comfort food? Think again. Enjoy the addition of Parmesan for a richer recipe.
- Parmesan Drop Biscuits – if your drop biscuit recipe needs a pick-me-up, whip these up in just 30 minutes.
- Savory Parmesan Cookies – rollout cookies are traditional, but these savory cookies can be sweetened up with a drizzle of honey, sure to be a crowd pleaser.
- Parmesan and Chocolate Grilled Cheese – from lunchtime treat to late night snack, this tasty concoction is one you won’t want to keep a secret. Fan of cheese and chocolate? Try these other pairing ideas, too.
Party on, Parmesan
While there is so much to know and love about Parmesan, perhaps one of the best Parmesan cheese facts is that it’s friendly to lactose-intolerant cheese lovers. If you know that you can handle low levels of lactose, Parmesan fits perfectly into this category, at two percent or less.
Such a versatile cheese, Cello Parmesan cheese is designed for the unique conditions of the Lake Country Dairy region using select culture and cow’s milk. Our Parmesan is aged for 12 months to enhance this classic household cheese and highlight the bold, nutty flavors and notes of crushed apple.
Parmesan brings the ultimate party when it becomes an anchor for your next cheese board! Consider Cello Copper Kettle, a Parmesan aged for 16 months in copper vats creating a delightful, unique caramel finish.
While we know our Parm can charm, don’t just take our word for it. We’re proud to share our Parmesan cheeses dominated their category in the The World Championship Cheese Contest® 2022! That’s right – Cello Parmesan won Best in Class; Cello Organic Copper Kettle Parmesan came in Second; and Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan rounded out the top three.
An old world cheese, Parmesan offers new world fun when you choose the best Parmesan cheese for you, and the Best of the Best with Cello! Ciao and chow for now!