I used to throw away parmesan rinds as waste. Sure I might keep one or two every now and again if I knew I was making a stew and thought slipping a rind in would boost the flavour, but mainly they ended up in the bin. When I think of all those poor rinds that never got to fulfil their potential it’s more shame than one man should ever have to bear. I mean I use a lot of parmesan, in risotto, in pesto, in salads, in Bolognese sauce and even sometimes when I think no-one is looking in a folded over piece of white bread with some tomato sauce. I mean don’t judge me until you’ve tried it, and then you can, and probably will, judge me. All the while, I could have been making this parmesan broth. It’s genuinely insane – adds an umami punch to sauces, soups and stews, makes a totally knockout risotto and is actually just amazing as a standalone broth as in this recipe. All for the small price of freezing your parmesan rinds each time you use one and not wastefully throwing them away. Mea culpa, Edith Piaf notwithstanding je regrette beaucoup.
Now, I should first acknowledge my sources. I first heard about this idea from the inimitable Deb Perelman over at Smitten Kitchen. She in turn I believe heard about it from a great blog called Jennie’s Kitchen and the good folk from Italy have been doing this for almost ever. Nothing new under the sun but it sure as shooting was new to me. You can add aromatics like onion or spices like star anise if you want but personally I just want the pure parmesan flavour and simply lob a bunch of rinds in a pot with water to cover. That way if I do want to add any specific aromats, I can add them for a specific dish. I use my pressure cooker for maximal extraction but you can just easily cook the rinds slightly longer in a traditional pot, it takes less than an hour and will keep forever.
I’ve used this broth for a number of different dishes but this one is my absolute favourite. I add some dark soy sauce which is thicker and milder than light soy with a nuanced, almost caramel like soy flavour along with some black pepper. The kale cooks directly in the broth along with some pre-cooked chickpeas. I had some frozen chickpeas on hand from when I cooked a Friday night dinner for some friends but canned chickpeas would do just as well. Some diced chorizo nestled underneath adds some surprise savouriness. Finally some lightly pan fried cod sitting proudly on top rounds off what ended up being a very quick weeknight meal I made for my parents in around 20 minutes. I’ll never be without parmesan broth in the freezer again!
Parmesan Broth with Kale, Cod and Chickpeas:
Ingredients (dish ingredients serve 4 but recipe makes enough broth for 2-3 batches):
- 10 parmesan rinds (in reality as many as you can muster, I pop them in the freezer after use and eventually when I have enough I make the broth)
- By weight 6-8x as much water as you have parmesan rinds.
- 4 cod fillets, skin on
- 100g chorizo, skin removed and diced
- Large bunch of kale
- Handful of baby spinach
- 1 can cooked chickpeas, drained (or home-made cooked chickpeas if you have on hand)
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped tarragon
- Dark soy sauce
- Add the rinds and water to a pot. Bring a to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour with a lid on. You may wish to give the rinds a stir every 5-10 minutes or so to try and prevent them catching. You can also wrap them in cheesecloth to prevent them sticking. Truth is I have always ended up with some stuck to the pot but it’s not too bad.
- Warm anough of the parmesan broth for four servings and season with dark soy sauce. You will have to constantly taste as I’ve found the amount of soy needed varies tremendously based on the strength of the parmesan broth which in turn is affected by the quantity of cheese remaining on the rinds (and the age/strength of the original parmesan). If you find the soy flavour is as pronounced as you would like it but it still lacks a little depth, it may need some seasoning with salt though remember that the chorizo is quite salty. Add a few grinds of fresh black pepper for warmth.
- Cook the diced chorizo in a small amount of olive oil until cooked through but not overly coloured. Once cooked, add the spinach and cook until wilted.
- Cook the kale in the broth for 10 minutes until softened. Add the chickpeas and warm through. Adjust seasoning if needed.
- To cook the cod, score the skin to prevent it curling without cutting deeply into the meat. Season with salt all over, including the skin. Add a small amount of oil to a frying pan and heat over a medium high heat. Be careful not to add too much oil, oil transmits heat very well and if the level of the oil is above the skin of the fish it will overcook the delicate flesh. Place the cod skin side down and cook until almost cooked through. 90% of the cooking will be done skin side down, this will take around 5-7 minutes depending on the heat of the pan and the thickness of the fish. Flip and cook for 30 seconds to a minute.
- To assemble place some chorizo and spinach at the bottom of the bowl. Add the kale and chick pea broth and sprinkle the finely chopped tarragon on top. Nestle the cod fillet skin side up (or if people don’t like the skin peel off after cooking) on top and serve immediately.
TimedEating Tips and Tricks for cooking ahead:
- The Parmesan broth will keep for over a week in the fridge or almost indefinitely frozen. It is best to store without the kale or chickpeas. The broth freezes well laid flat in a sealed bag. This allows it to defrost quickly.
- If using home cooked chickpeas, they store in the fridge for around a week or again almost indefinitely frozen.