How Massimo Bottura Keeps Parmesan Fresh
One of the most famous menu items at Massimo Bottura’s three-Michelin-star restaurant, Osteria Francescana, is called “Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in Different Textures and Temperatures.” As seen in his cookbook, Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef, this modernist dish includes a Parmigiano and ricotta demi-soufflé, Parmigiano sauce, Parmigiano foam, a Parmigiano wafer, and Parmigiano air, which, in case you're wondering, is quite literally a cloud made from the hard, Italian cheese.
Bottura clearly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Parmesan. Which is why we weren’t the least bit surprised when he “scolded” Marc Vetri for treating the cheese in what was apparently the wrong way.
In an Instagram post of a massive wedge of the cheese with a knife stuck in the top, Vetri wrote, “Massimo scolded me when I started to cut the Parmigiano Reggiano. He said to keep a wet cloth over Parmigiano Reggiano otherwise it will dry out...unless you’re in Modena. New rule! Who am I to argue! Oui chef!”
More like sí chef, but yeah. When Massimo Bottura imparts wisdom, you listen. So if you’re going to keep a big block of Parm out for a while, make sure to cover it with a wet cloth. The moisture will keep the already-dry cheese from further dehydration, maintaining that perfectly firm-yet-gritty texture, ideal for grating on top of pasta.
Curious to know why these two rockstar chefs were together (and why we didn’t score an invite)? To celebrate 20 years of Vetri Cucina, Vetri has been hosting a series of guest chef dinners. Throughout the past several months, chefs from across the world have come to cook at the Philadelphia restaurant, starting last November with Gabrielle Hamilton and ending in September 2018 with Michael Tusk. We’re just glad, for the cheese’s sake, that Bottura found his way into the mix.
For more of Bottura’s genius ideas, buy his newest cookbook, Bread Is Gold.