The Rind of the Cheese and the Heel of the Bread

The Rind of the Cheese and the Heel of the Bread

by Beth Rotto, Cheese Buyer

Is there someone at your house who prefers the heel of the bread? What about the rind on the cheese? Should you eat it? Some cheeses have an edible rind that forms during the cheesemaking process. Rinds are natural and usually edible as opposed to other coverings such as wax or cloth that are inedible. The cheese rind is a useful part of a wheel of cheese. It is somewhat of a barrier that helps hold in the moisture and flavor of the rest of the cheese. Although some rinds are edible, whether or not to eat them is a matter of personal preference. If you enjoy eating the rind, the answer is yes. Use your own judgment. I am often asked this question about brie cheese and it’s pillowy, white rind. The rind of brie can be eaten, although some people prefer to cut the rind away or scoop out the inside when the cheese is warmed. In the case of Parmigiano Reggiano, the rind is also an edible part of the cheese, but difficult to eat because it is harder and dryer than the cheese from the inside of the wheel. Still, some people ask specifically for parmesan rind! Using it in soup is a great way to waste nothing and to add a salty-umami depth to your broth.

I found this recipe on the internet, at http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/the_wednesday_chef/. Serve it with a toasted heel of bread.

Lidia Bastianich’s Rice and Potato Soup with Parmigiano Rind
The recipe comes Lidia Bastianich – cookbook writer, television chef, and restaurant owner – and was printed in the New York Times a few years ago. The whole thing takes less than an hour to make, but has bold and well-melded flavors that belie its quick preparation.

Here is some additional information on cheese rind from the Milk Marketing Board.

Customers Want to Know…

Should I eat the rind?
Whether or not to eat the rind is sometimes a matter of taste, but generally the rinds of soft cheeses can be eaten, while those of harder cheeses are often unpleasant.

Are there any uses for uneaten rinds?
The natural rinds of hard cheeses, especially Parmesan, are wonderful for flavoring soups and stocks. Freeze your leftover rinds in resealable bags so you always have one handy.

Do all cheeses have a rind?
No. Some varieties, such as Brick and Colby, are ripened in plastic film or other protective coating to prevent rind formation. Other cheeses, such as Feta, are rindless because they are not allowed to ripen.

Rice & Potato Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano Rind
Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
2 medium carrots, coarsely shredded
2 center celery stalks, diced
salt, to taste
2 teaspoons tomato paste
10 cups hot chicken broth
2 2-inch-squares Parmigiano rind, exterior scraped
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup long-grain rice
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. In a deep, heavy 4- to 5-quart pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Potatoes will stick to pot; adjust heat to prevent stuck bits from becoming too dark. Stir in carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until carrots are softened, another 2 to 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Add tomato paste and stir to coat vegetables.

2. Add broth, Parmigiano rinds and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, scraping up bits of potato on bottom, then simmer. Season soup lightly with salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook until potatoes begin to fall apart, about 40 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until rice is tender but still firm, about 12 minutes. Remove bay leaves, stir in parsley, and check seasoning. Remove rinds and cut into small pieces. Eat them right away or put a piece in each soup bowl and ladle soup on top. Serve.

Neufchatel Alfredo Sauce
By Peter Alfieri of Buon Appetito Providence
Serves: 4-6

Prep Time: 5 minutes    Cook Time: 15 minutes     Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic – pressed
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups water
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 tablespoon flour
2/3 cup Neufchatel cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley – chopped
1/4 cup light parmesan cheese
1 pound pasta
salt to taste
pepper to taste