The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Parmigiano - get it right!

I am in a state of shock by Nigella's understanding of Italian dishes. Cannelini beans, salame, tomatoes and ditalini?? What is this supposed to be? Has anyone seen her latest programme? Nigella Kitchen - without the apostrophe s. I always wonder: when in the programme they go out, are those hired friends? Who knows.
I used to be a big fan of her Christmas show, so much that I have fond memories of slipping into bed with a cup of hot chocolate and be inspired by Nigella. But this one? I am deeply troubled. Under what type of heavy substances is she? And why does she always pretend she has been told by Italians? Which ones? Va beh.

I have just come back from Tuscany where I experienced some new great dishes. As I feel generous and in a sharing spirit, I have decided to let you have the recipe. Also because it is very easy but of great impact.

I think parmisan, actually not, parmigiano...why do we feel the need to translate it? Do we say ceddaro when we refer to it in Italian? No. Exactly. And I am not particularly nationalistic but I cannot stand violence to language. It's a bit like the fashionable word of panini; you're supposed to order a (singular) panini even though the word implies the plural so it would be two panini...while if it is only one, it should be one or a panino! Va beh.

So, my recipe. We were exploring a few places for my sister's wedding, and one of these was Dievole, near Vagliagli, at the real heart of Chianti. Beautiful. Especially now when the vineyards have decided to change colour to their leaves but haven't made up their mind completely going from green to gold, to rusty red to brown.

I do not intend to make any publicity of the place itself (although I would highly recommend it...) but one of the suggested menus had a spuma di parmigiano con pere, miele e aceto balsamico (parmigiano mousse with pears, honey and balsamic vinegar). I didn't go and interrogate and extort the chef - didn't think it would have gone down well. So I tried to guess and came up with a rough idea of the recipe.

I tried it twice while I was at my parents' in Siena and this is what I think you should do:

For 4 people


> 250g parmigiano Reggiano; 300g single cream; 500g pears (Williams); 10g gelatine; 1 tbsp of honey; 1 tbsp of granulated sugar; 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar.


> In a saucepan boil the cream.

> In a plate with cold water, soak the gelatine, squeeze it and add it to the cream. Stir well.

> Add to the cream, the grated parmigiano. Mix well whisking gently. Pour the mousse into individual ramekin which you will have previously greased or otherwise the mousse won't come out of them (and you will get really angry!). Set them aside for a few minutes to let it cool down, and then leave it in the fridge for an hour until it is completely set.

> Peel and chop the pears into small cubes. Mash half of them to make a pure'. Use the other half cut into cubes and cook in a pan with the honey, sugar and vinegar. Let the vinegar evaporate slightly and make a think syrup.

> Distribute the pear pure' on the serving plate. Turn the mousse onto the pure' (which you will have removed from the fridge a few minutes earlier so that it warms up a bit). Top up with the pear cubes and the sauce.

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