Five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano

A recipe by Massimo Bottura, taken from Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef

Ingredients for the demi-soufflé

200 g organic ricotta
60 g egg white
100 g 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
40 g double (heavy) cream
1 g sea salt
0.5 g white pepper


Grease some 8 x 4 cm (3 1/4 x 1 1/2 inch) aluminium timbales. Smoke the ricotta lightly over cherry wood chips in a sealed oven for 3 minutes.

Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks. Whip the ricotta. Mix the Parmigiano with the cream, combine with the ricotta and season with the salt and pepper.

Fold in the whisked egg white and steam in the timbales for 45 minutes.

Remove from the timbales and shape the soufflés into quenelles.

Ingredients for parmigiano sauce

20 g capon stock, not strained
100 g 30-month Parmigiano Reggiano, grated


Bring the stock to 60°C (140°F) at medium speed in a thermal mixer. Add the Parmigiano and bring it to 85°C (185°F). 

Increase the speed and process to create a smooth, velvety sauce. Pass through a fine chinois.

Ingredients for parmigiano foam

125 g capon stock
250 g 36-month Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
100 g double (heavy) cream


Put the capon stock in a thermal mixer and bring to a boil at setting 3.

Add the Parmigiano a spoonful at a time. Increase the speed for 1 more minute, then add the cream.

Cool the mixture to 4–8°C (39–46°F). Place in a siphon, shake it, charge it with a double cartridge and shake again.

Let rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour at 4–8°C (39–46°F) before serving.

Ingredients for parmigiano wafer

100 g 40-month Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
100 g mineral water


Put the Parmigiano and water in a pan and slowly bring to a boil until the cheese becomes stringy. Remove from the heat and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours.

Drain off the liquid and put the cheese in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Roll out the cold cheese dough to a thickness of 1 mm (1/16 inch) and lay it out flat on a silicone baking mat.

Bake for 12 minutes until it is a thin wafer. Let cool at room temperature, then crack it into 4 parts.

Break it into an imperfect triangular shape, about 5 cm (2 inches).

Ingredients for parmigiano air

200 g 50-month Parmigiano Reggiano crusts
200 g 50-month Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
2 g lecithin


Place the Parmigiano crusts in a pan with 500 g water and simmer for 3 hours over low heat. Strain and cool the liquid.

Blend the chilled liquid and the grated Parmigiano for 30 minutes, then let it rest in the fridge overnight.

Strain it through a tamis sieve and transfer the strained liquid to a large bowl. Just before serving, add the lecithin and whisk with a handheld blender until it rises into a cloud of air.

To serve

Place 2 quenelles of demi-soufflé at the base of each plate and add 2 spoonfuls of sauce around the soufflé.

Place the foam on top, add the wafer at a diagonal slant, and finally a cloud of air covering one quarter of the plate.

Massimo Bottura: Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef

Osteria Francescana is Italy’s most celebrated restaurant. At Osteria Francescana, chef Massimo Bottura takes inspiration from contemporary art to create highly innovative dishes that play with Italian culinary traditions. It’s an approach that has won him three Michelin stars and the number three place on the World's 50 Best Restaurant list.

Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef is a tribute to Bottura’s twenty-five year career and the evolution of Osteria Francescana. Divided into four chapters, each one dealing with a different period, the book features 50 recipes and accompanying texts explaining Bottura’s inspiration, ingredients and techniques. Illustrated with photography by Stefano Graziani and Carlo Benvenuto, Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef is the first book from Bottura - the leading figure in modern Italian gastronomy.