What the heck is Parmesan water? It is literally what it sounds like. We took two litres of water and 1000 grams of aged Parmesan and simmered on a low heat. We seasoned the water with a pinch of salt, though the salinity and flavor profile of the Parmesan carried through the water. We then let the mixture rest and finally strained the milky broth with its fine layer of dairy fat on top. We reserved a third of the Parmesan base to cook our artichokes, the rest we will clarify and use in other forms.
2 litres of water
1000g of Parmesan
pinch of salt
Combine cheese with cold water and salt. Bring to a soft boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain.
In order to cook our artichokes we broke away from tradition and yet we were inspired by it as well. In the past we have cooked artichokes in an acidulated broth flavored with vegetables, herbs, wine and chile flakes. Today we tossed aside what has worked for us in the past and cooked our cleaned artichokes in the Parmesan water which we seasoned with a pinch more salt and a dash of Crystal hot sauce. The sight of the Parmesan water reminded me of a blanc, a flour based poaching medium used for cooking vegetables that you did not want to oxidize. In recent years chefs have just added a hunk of bread to an acidulated cooking broth and called it a blanc. We were inspired by the visual and the result was delicious.
4 cleaned artichokes cut into eight sections
750 ml Parmesan water
Crystal hot sauce
We added the artichoke pieces to boiling Parmesan water and simmered them until they were tender. Use a pairing knife to test for tenderness, it should sink easily through the flesh but the chokes should not be mushy. When they are just tender turn off the heat and let the artichokes cool in the cuisson. The chilled artichokes can be used in a salad or as the base for a ragout for artichoke soup. The reserved liquid will have married the flavors of artichoke and Parmesan. This liquid can be enriched with a knob of butter and a few sections of the poached artichokes. Puree these ingredients together and season with black pepper. Strain the soup, aerate one final time with blender and serve with the warmed artichoke sections.
This soup can also be used as a poaching medium for chicken or shellfish or as a sauce for pork or veal. Similarly, the soup can be left light without the addition of pureed artichokes and used as a delicate froth to finish a savory oatmeal preparation. It can be thickened with a touch of cream or creme fraiche and paired with seared red mullet or cod to add savory richness to the tender fish. It can be turned into a chowder with the addition of potatoes and leeks and then showered with fresh herbs for a savory vegetarian stew. The chilled poaching liquid can be strained and then used as a base for a vinaigrette which would be lovely with cold poached chicken, tomatoes and the chilled artichokes. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.