You probably know celeb chef Gennaro Contaldo best from the telly – he’s starred in many of Jamie Oliver’s shows as well as being on half of the Two Greedy Italians on BBC Two. He’s also won a Guinness World Record for the most ravioli made in two minutes, which is pretty cool too. But now he’s taking up a new starring role as the brand ambassador for Parmigiano Reggiano in the UK.
Naturally that means he had to travel to northern Italy, (specifically the area of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna to the left of the river Reno, and Mantua to the right of the river Po) where Parmigiano Reggiano can only be made (as it’s a Protected Designation of Origin product), to see how the cheese is made and conduct a few taste tests – a hard job but someone’s gotta do it!
Parmigiano Reggiano, which is the only cheese that can legally be called Parmesan, is one of the oldest cheeses in the world and is still made much the same way it was nearly 1000 years ago. Containing just three ingredients – milk, salt and rennet – it’s 100% natural with no additives or preservatives. The flavour profiles of the cheese change as it ages, meaning Parmigiano Reggiano works just as well as part of a cheeseboard paired with wine as it does in a cooked dish.
As Gennaro says, “Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the oldest and richest cheeses in the world, with a real complexity of flavours that make it perfect for many different recipes. The minimum age of Parmigiano Reggiano is 12 months, and by this point, the cheese has a more delicate flavour, making it a good choice for aperitifs. At 24 months, which is the most common age of Parmigiano Reggiano, is it perfect when paired with medium-bodied wines and to add flavour to traditional Italian dishes. More mature cheese of 30 – 36 months is more crumbly and richer in flavour – delicious in filled and baked pastas!”
If that’s got you feeling hungry, then give Gennaro’s recipe for Parmigiano Reggiano Chicken Saltimbocca with Parma Ham and sage a go.
What You Need
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced to obtain approx. 6-8 slices
Parmigiano Reggiano shavings
6-8 slices of Parma Ham
12-14 sage leaves
plain flour for dusting
150ml white wine
What You Do
1. Place the chicken slices in between clingfilm and bash to make them thinner. Season all over with a little black pepper, top with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano followed by a slice of prosciutto so the cheese is covered, trim the slice of prosciutto, if necessary, to fit the chicken. Place a couple of sage leaves over and secure with toothpicks.
2. Place some flour on a plate and lightly dust the underneath of the chicken
3. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan, add the saltimbocca chicken-side down and cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes or until sealed. Turn them over and cook for a further 2 minutes. Turn them over again, increase the heat to high, add white wine and cook for a minute.
4. Remove the chicken and place on a serving dish. Add another knob of butter in the pan and cook for about 30 seconds or so until creamy. Pour the butter sauce over the chicken and serve immediately with some fresh parmesan shavings.