I haven't done a Food Friday in a long time, but was inspired today, despite it being Sunday. If you're a purist and want to read a Food Friday post on a Friday, I'll forgive you if you don't comment for a few days.
We're having our last big family hoo-hah of the Thanksgiving season today at my husband's aunt's house, and I was asked to bring an appetizer. After having cooked (and cleaned up after) Thanksgiving dinner this past week, I was in the mood for something very easy with limited dishes involved. After hearing them referenced on the most recent episode of The Splendid Table, I decided I wanted to try my hand at making Parmesan crisps. I did a little Internet research and ended up combining notes from a few recipes, then putting my own spin on it anyway. So here, for what it's worth, is my (usual kinda-sorta) recipe.
By the way, I used a really good Parmesan for this--none of the inexpensive pre-grated stuff that comes in a tall green jar (that shall remain nameless). That would likely work fine, but I've recently become a Parmesan snob and buy chunks of the good stuff at the grocery store and grate it myself. It's more expensive, but the flavor is so fantastic that a little goes a long way. And since this recipe is all about the Parmesan, I'd recommend ponying up for the good stuff.
Sandy's Italian Parmesan Crisps
- A great Parmesan, shredded. (I used a Parmiagiano Reggiano available in my local grocery store). I ended up with about 4 cups, but it all depends on how many crisps you want to make.
- 1 tbsp flour
- Onion powder, garlic powder, dried Italian seasoning, dried basil leaves (to taste)
- Salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375. Make sure rack is in center of oven. Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
2. Mix the ingredients together well. The flour will tend to want to head for the bottom of the bowl so I used my hands and kept tossing everything until I felt the cheese was well-coated with the seasonings.
3. Drop cheese mixture in about tablespoon amounts onto parchment paper, spacing it about 3-4" apart. Spread out the cheese mounds until they're relatively flat but still tightly enough together that the cheese will melt into one piece. The more the cheese is mounded, the chewier the result is; a good crispy texture requires a fairly flat, rounded shape. Also, holes among the cheese will remain holes and make finished product more breakable--parmesan doesn't spread too much when it melts. So keep the cheese close together. My first two batches were a little trial-and-error to figure out what worked best
4. Bake for about 4-7 minutes, depending on your oven. They'll bubble first, but don't take them out while bubbling. They need to get a little past that point. You want them nicely browned but not burned.
5. After removing from the oven, let the pan sit for about 5 minutes so they finish setting before sliding them off the parchment with a very thin-edged metal spatula. Move them onto a cooling rack covered with a piece of paper towel to finish cooling and setting. They're extremely delicate, so handle with care!
I believe my yield was something like 3 dozen crisps, but I wasn't really counting. Your yield will depend on how big you make your crisps. I'm carrying them to the party in a tupperware container with a lot of paper towel between each layer mostly to try to keep them from pulverizing themselves on the drive.
I also made a sauce to go with them. I needed something very lightweight so it wouldn't break the crisp when dipped, so I made a sort of marinara thing:
Sort-of Marinara Sauce for Crisps:
In food processor, blend 1 can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes and 1 tbsp tomato paste with onion powder, garlic powder, and italian seasonings. (I used an Italian seasoning blend plus extra dried basil since I'm a fan. We're past season for fresh herbs here, but if I did this in the summer fresh herbs would definitely be the thing. I'd have used a real onion instead of onion powder if I'd had one in the house: This was sort of a make-do recipe.) Add salt to taste, and a pinch of sugar. Process until mostly smooth but with some nice texture to it.
The sauce is just thick enough to cling to the parmesan crisp but not break it. And yes, you could use leftover sauce next time you have pasta. :-)
I confess to having "taste-tested" several. Quality control and all that. I'm taking some risk posting this before actually taking the crisps to the party and finding out what everyone else thinks, but I'm fairly confident!