Parmigiano Reggiano Inspired EveningCreativity and Tradition With Chef David Hackett
“Parmigiano Reggiano is a true miracle of nature and of the traditions of the people who produce it. It is for the enjoyment of those who see in what they eat not only nourishment, but also incredible flavor, love for the earth, and respect – a lot of respect – for nature and its mysteries.”
A couple of weeks ago we had the absolute privilege to share the grounds of the Biltmore Culinary Academy, at the famous Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel, with renowned Chef David Hackett, along with 24 fellow bloggers who share, as much as we do, a magic passion for food and cooking. This was a private event hosted by the Parmigiano Reggiano US Team, with a common goal:
To cook and eat original recipes from Chef David Hackett’s Parmigiano Reggiano inspired menu.
We were all paired in teams of four, and each team was assigned one unique recipe. But, the teams had to cook the dishes for 25+ people in the room, so this was no easy task! We had a little over 2.5 hours to complete it. But as every good chef, before you can start cooking, you need to learn the ins-and-outs of your ingredients, and we can’t keep all this knowledge to ourselves, so we’ll share a couple of mind blowing facts that we had no idea about when it comes to having a Parmigiano Reggiano conversation:
- Parmigiano Reggiano is strictly bound to its place of origin. Both the production of milk and its transformation into cheese take place in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, and Mantua in Italy. It has been produced since 1200, so it has ~900 years of tradition! Anything produced outside of these regions should not call itself Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. So, make sure you always look for the appropriate certification marks when purchasing in your local stores.
- The cows that produce the milk used in the production of this cheese, are never fed any kind of silage, fermented food, food of animal origin, or any by-product. Plus, no additives or treatment is added to the milk used in the production. Music to our ears!
- It has one of the lowest cholesterol levels of any cheese, it’s lactose-free, and has NO additives.
Now, back to cooking. The ingredients were lined up on the kitchen table, ready for each team to break out and start collecting them. Chef Dave Hackett gave us all advice on how to keep a safe kitchen environment, and explained the importance of creativity in food, to make it all the more enjoyable. He reviewed all the available recipes with us, and how the logistics of the evening would work.
KOF’s mission: create the best Parmigiano Reggiano Taco Shells with Cuban Picadillo ever. And, so we did, with our powerful dream team: Alejandro Fertitta from “Munch Miami” and Laura Sgroi from “Now That I Am In My Thirties.” Truly a team effort, and a superb experience.
Now, how did this come to life? We followed the recipe below, and we hope you all can have a similar delicious experience at home if you’re up for the cooking.
Special items you’ll need in your kitchen: a couple of small cake rings, baking dish, parchment paper, cheese grater, mini taco holder, stainless steel spatula.
- The recipe below serves about 10 mini tacos, with leftover meat.
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium white onion (chopped fine)
- 1 small green pepper (chopped)
- ½ cup beef stock
- ¾ cup tomato sauce
- 2 small potatoes (peeled and diced)
- 8 to 10 green olives (pitted)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for sautéing
- In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix well, use your hands- don’t be afraid!
- In a frying pan, heat the olive oil in medium-high heat. Sauté the onions, green peppers, and garlic until soft. About 4 minutes.
- Add the ground beef to the mixture. Start separating in very small batches, but let it brown on one side before you start turning it. About 5 minutes each side, and make sure the majority of the water has been evaporated. Once this is done, add the beef stock and the tomato sauce. Mix well, and cover on medium-low heat for ~15 minutes.
- Add the diced potatoes, cover and cook for another ~12 minutes, or until the potatoes are done.
- Remove the cover, add the olives, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until the liquid is fully evaporated, but the meat is still moist.
- Remove from heat, let it rest for 10 minutes.
The Taco Shells:
- Shave one wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Place parchment paper on baking dish and place the cake ring on the paper.
- Start filling the cake rings with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Don’t fill it to the top, just create a thin later in the bottom of the ring.
- Place in the oven at 375F, for 3-4 minutes, or until they melt.
- Remove from the oven, and let it rest for about 2 minutes, but while they’re still soft. Use the spatula to remove from the parchment paper (make sure they keep the round shape as much as possible), place on the taco holder, and start filling with the picadillo. Garnish with pico de gallo and cilantro. Serve hot!
As soon as we were done, we all took our hands off the table, and for a moment we felt like Master Chefs, minus Chef Gordon Ramsay! After all the food was ready, we toured each table and had a bite of every dish created. All of them were absolutely delicious and unique in their own special way. We took turns to approach the chalkboards surrounding us, and voted for our favorite dish out of all.
And the winner is…
THE TACOS! yes, all that hard work paid off.
Other menu items, equally delicious, all created by Chef David Hackett:
- Parmigiano Reggiano & Cilantro Gnocchi with Key Lime Butter Sauce
- Parmigiano Reggiano Crusted Sea Scallops with Cumin Corn Salsa
- Iberico Ham, Phyllo, Parmigiano Reggiano Asparagus Fingers
- Parmigiano Reggiano Potato Flan served with Chorizo, Wild Mushroom, and Tomato Ragu
- Spicy Chocolate Dipped Assorted Fruit with dusted Parmigiano Reggiano and Coconut.
It was truly a magical evening of tastings, wine pairing, friends, and lots and lots of cheese! A big shout out to Danielle and Federico who made this amazing event possible, and of course, to Paola from South Florida Bloggers for always bringing these wonderful opportunities to all bloggers in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. All images by Ray Santana Photography.
Now, go get your cheese on!
With love and spice,
Rick & Claud