There’s a reason some call Parmigiano Reggiano the king of cheese: it’s a behemoth beast. The cheese is aged in 80 pound wheels, which must be cracked carefully (by hand, no less) to preserve the cheese’s integrity. After it’s hewn in half, it can be divided into manageable pieces to be sold to consumers, who take home their wedge to grate over, well, anything and everything.
But how do you crack into a wheel flakey Parmigiano without damaging the precious goods? Cheese expert and It’s Not You, It’s Brie blogger Kristin Jackson was lucky enough to witness one of these rare events at a local cheese class, and she brought her camera with her. Though you may think they use a very large knife for this task, Jackson explains simply, “It’s done with daggers.” Rather than heaving and hacking at the wheel with large tools, all one needs is a few strong, short, and sharp knives to wedge into key spots. After scoring, stabbing, and wiggling their way around the rind, the wheel will simply crack in two. Want to see the magic in action? As Jackson suggests, contact local cheese shops or Italian specialty shops in your area to see if any are willing to give you a peek. Whole Foods Market even hosts a national Parmigiano Reggiano cracking event!
In the meantime, sate your curiosity with a few Parmigiano-related reads: Learn how it’s made, what’s in a name, and the ever important question: should you eat the rind? Already have some Parm in the house? Try it in a fresh tricolore salad or make an easy Parmigiano broth to enrich other dishes. You can’t go wrong with the king of cheese.