You probably know that parmesan rinds give excellent flavor to soups. Take this concept one step further by boosting your chicken or vegetable stocks with the flavor of parm, too. With the addition of rinds, you'll get an incredible base for soups and stews that's entirely unique from any standard stock.
I've talked before about making a parm broth; what follows is a recipe for something even more tasty. With the addition of aromatics and the basics you'll find in a chicken or vegetable stock, this version is much more substantial in flavor. And more and more, I see parm rinds sold in bulk, which makes this even easier to do if you haven't acquired enough rinds by being a serious cheese consumer.
Use this stock as a base for soups like Italian wedding, white bean, and minestrone. It'd be great in heartier dishes, too, like this Chicken Stew with Kale and Cannellini Beans or this Collard Greens Stew with Chorizo and Garlic.
As with most stocks, the longer you let this simmer, the more extraction you'll get from the elements in the stock. And if you have other stock-friendly ingredients on hand, like leeks, shallots, fennel, or corn cobs, throw those in, as well. For a heavy parm flavor, be sure to use a good amount of rinds, like 8 or more.
For a more roasted, intense flavor, saute the vegetables in some olive oil first, until softened and deeply golden. Then add the water and parm rinds. If using chicken parts, you can roast them in the oven before adding to the water, at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden.
Since stocks are meant to add body to soups, sauces, and stews, and since they're typically reduced quite a bit during cooking, they aren't usually seasoned at all. This one benefits from a bit of salt at the end, though, just to boost its flavor before it gets turned into something else. And if you're not reducing it very much, you won't run the risk of it being too salty.
2 onions, peeled and quartered
3 carrots, in 2-inch pieces
4 stalks celery, in 2-inch pieces
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch thyme
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 chicken carcass, or a mix of chicken necks, backs, and wings (optional)
8 medium-sized Parmesan rinds (or whatever you have on hand)
Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot. Add water to fill. Bring to a boil over high heat, skim any foam that comes to the top, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, skimming the surface as necessary for at least 4 hours. Top with water occasionally if necessary. Strain and season very conservatively with salt.
Cool, and transfer to containers. Store in the refrigerator for use within 1 week, or in the freezer for use within 6 months.
Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City, where she continues to teach cheese classes for the public. She is currently a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show.
(Images: Nora Singley)