Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Trade Off or It"s Not Parmesan Guy!

A group of third year cooking apprentices from Ballarat came for an end of year excursion today.

They were full of energy and enthusiasm for their chosen trade. We made bread, picked some asparagus got into some intensive prep. Roasted some pig. Then a long lunch... a peep into a different world. It’s hard to tell what road a cook will take but I hope the visit gave them a perspective that may trigger a few questions as they make their way in the trade.

 The rest of this little pig got a right royal roasting in the wood oven but the head and feet gave us a chance to make a traditional brawn. It was braised for 3 hours on a classic mirepoix and some complex meat stock till it came apart. Not cooked too much as to make it stringy just falling off the bone. The brain was cooked separately and added back at the end. We added some spiced cumquats, aromatics and pistachio nuts and it set itsef. Can be used as a cold starter but today we crumbed small slices of it and deep fried it as a garnish for some wood smoked neck and slowly braised belly on lentils.

The talk around the table in yesterday’s class turned to “hanging’ or “dry ageing of meat”. I am amazed at how a simple ageing technique for meats has turned into a pissing contest on how long a piece of meat has been left to mature. I have always tried to age red meats to a degree that allows good cooking to occur naturally. I can appreciate the mature flavours developed after very long maturation times but often meat is matured at temperatures that are too low to allow natural enzyme action to happen quickly. Consequently they become more like old chilled beef, funky but not great. A well slaughtered, low tension hung, carefully butchered carcass of prime grass fed beef will not need to be hung for more that 5 weeks.But the temperature has to be carefully monitored and the carcass kept whole. After butchery any cut smaller than a forequarter will not age properly. Ageing a rib eye is ok but much better aged on the carcass. As to wet ageing a piece of hanger in a plastic bag then dry ageing it for months is simply silly.

The Plug.
How long is it before the word Parmesan can only be used for cheese that is actually Parmesan Mr. Grossi?
Gruen please note!! Mil Lel.
We wouldn’t mind if it was made properly and tasted good.
It has been legal to make unpasteurised parmesan style cheeses in Australia for about 2 years now so why has nobody done it yet?
The Brief must have been how to sell Parmesan that’s not Parmesan?
Or put on the 3D glasses and groove to the real thing here.. Parmigiano-Reggiano


Thermomixer said...


Yes, I recall Richard's factory in Thomastown with copper-lined vats where he was hoping to produce unpasteurised parmesan.

Guess you get condemned if you import authentic Italian tomatoes rather than using local produce. You get condemned for recommending Aussie stuff.

But this is definitely NOT good and until someone like Nick H makes something decent, then I'll keep buying parmagiano reggiano and grana.

Chalk & Cheese.

Think let dollars get in the way of his conscience - big time.

steve said...

I agree that Reggiano has no substitute-thats why I use it.
As to the celbrity chef endorsement of a cheese that is clearly not in the same league as PR, its bound to attract some skepticism and possibly bring into question credibility issues.
Has it dented his reputation? Perhaps for the likes of a few of us but to veryone else he's just maximising his earning potential.