Recipe: Parmigiano Reggiano risotto with 12-year-old balsamic vinegar

THIS DISH WAS inspired by a documentary about a three Michelin starred Italian chef, Massimo Bottura, and his love for ingredients from in and around his hometown of Modena.  Here, I have made a Parmigiano Reggiano  consommé and used it as a stock to pack as much flavour into the rice as possible - not just your bog standard risotto!

Modena is famous for Balsamic vinegar and it's amazing how well these two ingredients pair together.  I've used a 24-month-old Parmigiano Reggiano, along with a 12-year-old Balsamic from Demi John.  This vinegar is of undoubted quality with a superb sweet and sourness to it, as well as a viscous consistency that means you only need a small amount. With the umami and fruitiness of the cheese, this dish really intrigues the palette.  

The parmesan 'water' is something that I've attempted a few times, and really enhances a humble risotto.  It makes an interesting aperitif, too, especially if you don't tell people what it is before hand! Pay particular attention to the seasoning of this dish, because the cheese just about seasons it for you.  

You may have heard of Massimo from appearances on Masterchef over the last couple of years; I like to think this is a little tribute to Modena and a nod to Massimo's unrelenting passion for quality produce from his region.


500g Parmigiano Reggiano (24 months), shaved (keep the rind for infusing stock and finely grate 100g for crisps)
200g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1x small onion, finely diced 
100mls white wine
Bunch of parley, chives, mint or any herbs you have kicking about
100 mls of olive oil
100mls chicken stock
50g Butter, cubed
750mls water
Pinch of sea salt

You will also need some muslin cloth or a clean tea towel. Please under NO circumstances sacrifice the quality of the cheese in this recipe. 


1) Place a pan on a low heat and gently melt the Parmesan,  adding a splash of water when it starts to break down.  Add more water and whisk vigourously until cheese starts to melt.  Keep adding water until cheese has melted (you may be left with a few stringy bits, but that's fine), this should take around 15 mins.  Add the rind, bring to the boil and leave to infuse for a couple of hours.

2) To make the crisps, heat oven to 170C. On a baking mat, grate a thin layer of the Parmigiano Reggiano and place in the oven for 5-7 mins until just about to turn golden.  Remove and quickly cut with desired tool. Leave to cool and remove - be careful, they're very fragile.

3) Gently bring back the cheese mix to the boil then slowly strain through a muslin cloth into a clean bowl.  This should take around 30 mins.  You could do this a day or two in advance.

4) Place a bunch of mixed herbs into a blender or Bamix.  Add a good amount of oil (use your judgement) and a pinch of seasoning.  Blitz until smooth.

4) Place a pan on a medium heat and sweat the onions for 8-10 mins until soft and translucent. Bring the parmesan water and chicken stock up to the boil.  Add the rice to the onion mix and stir vigorously until it starts to crackle and pop, then drop the wine in the pan and reduce by half.

5) Ladle in the parmesan water and chicken stock to cover, stirring as you would a traditional risotto, adding more stock as required until rice is tender but with slight bite.  Whisk in the butter and grate in a little more cheese if you require.  Allow to rest for a couple of minutes.

6) Ladle the risotto into a bowl and drizzle in the balsamic and the herb oil.  Place the parmesan chards around the plate and serve.


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  2. Thanks for your kind comments - Phil


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