Le Cordon Bleu London, 15 Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1A 2LS
http://www.parmigianoreggiano.comI love a celebration, so the opportunity to take part in Global Parmigiano Reggiano Night at Le Cordon Bleu London was an exciting prospect. A bevy of bloggers and I would be creating two delicious dishes featuring Parmigiano Reggiano with Eric Bediat, the Head of Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu London. We had the perfect Aperitivo of a few glasses of nerve-settling prosecco and a tasting session of 24 and 30 month Parmigiano Reggiano. The 24 month cheese has a light colour, some crunch from crystals formed by the amino acid calcium lactate and a savoury ‘umami’ flavour. It’s great for snacking on with a glass of wine, cocktails or sherry. The 30 month was less moist with a more compact texture, a greater intensity of flavour and a greater density of calcium crystals. It’s an elegant cheese with notes of walnuts and dried fruit and would be a great match with port. Eric has worked with Michelin star chefs, such as Guy Martin and Michel Roux so it was a great honour and opportunity to work with him as well as to spend time in the hallowed halls of Le Cordon Bleu London in Bloomsbury. Apparently there are just 337 producers of Parmigiano Reggiano P.D.O. each making on average 25 cheeses a day from raw milk, with the only additives being salt and rennet.Our main course was a delicious sounding dish of glazed soft corn polenta, wild mushrooms, purple sprouting broccoli, grapes and 24 month Parmigiano Reggiano foam (recipe below). Eric talked us through it and then we were taken down to the kitchen!The mise-en-place had been set up for us by the lovely staff at Le Cordon Bleu London.Eric demonstrated how we should make the dish and then we chopped, microplaned, and sprinkled… melted, sweated and stirred…Eric’s version was a rather beautiful plate that created a symphony of texture, colour and flavour.My version looked like a vegetarian take on the Star Wars death star but still managed tasted pretty good courtesy of some great ingredients.Dessert was an autumnal Braeburn apple fondante with vanilla syrup, almond crumble and a delicious 24 month Parmigiano Reggiano ice cream that gently caressed the sous-vided apple.
After the cooking was finished we celebrated the fruit of our labours washed down with a good red. Parmigiano Reggiano is wonderful on its own but also the most flexible of cooking ingredients, adding terrific flavours and textures to a wide variety of dishes.
Glazed soft corn polenta, wild mushrooms, purple sprouting broccoli, grapes and 24 month Parmigiano Reggiano foam
fine salt and white pepper
1. Pickled grapes: Bring the sugar and vinegar to the boil. Add the grapes, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2. Polenta: Bring the milk, cream to a boil and season. Add the polenta gradually while stirring continuously until a thick consistency is achieved. Once cooled, pipe the mixture evenly into Silpat® moulds and chill.
3. Decoration: Make parmesan crisps by placing a layer of parmesan in a non-stick pan to the shape of your choice, then cooking until golden and crispy. Place aside on paper towel.
4. Mushrooms, Broccoli: To order, pan fry the mushrooms in butter, add the shallots and garlic then finish by adding the broccoli to the pan. Season.
5. Foam: Heat the water to 40°C and add the grated parmesan. Stir to dissolve the cheese and strain through a chinois. Whisk in the lecithin and a pinch of Xanthan gum. When needed, warm up the mixture and blend with a hand blender to create a light foam.
6. When plating the dish, reheat the pieces of polenta in the oven, sprinkle with parmesan and glaze with a blow torch. Place on a plate and garnish with the mushrooms, broccoli and grapes. Add the foam, parmesan crisps and micro parsley leaves.