Just last week in Ramsey we got this 92-pound wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano produced by Reggio Emilia Farm #597. Now, I don’t normally have trouble moving multiple wheels of heavy cheese, but I was baffled as to how I was not only going to move this giant hunk-o-Parm, but how I was going to cut it–especially when the “Parmigiano cutting kit” I received contained those four little knives you see lying on top of the wheel! I called our Vineyard Market Head Honcho panicking and begging for a chainsaw. He assured me that no chainsaw was needed, though. So how is it that Parmigiano-Reggiano is cut by hand?
The first step is to take the knife that looks like a chisel (pictured above all the way on the left) and to score the rind. You’re not cutting through it completely (the rind is too thick for that), but simply beginning the “cut.” You do this to the top, bottom, and sides in a line where you wish to make your first cut.
Next, using the knife with the hook on the end, you cut along your score marks, cutting completely through the rind on all sides.
Once you’ve broken through the thick rind, insert the two almond shaped knives along your cut to assure you are completely through the rind and to begin to loosen the Parm and begin the “break.” While this does require some force, at the same time it must be done gently so as not to break the wheel too soon.
Once the Parm has been “loosened, “you insert the two almond shaped knives at opposite ends like pictured above. Then…
…simply pop it open!
You continue the same process, though more delicately, to cut the Parm into the desired size pieces. Never once does this Parm touch our cheese-cutting wire. This not only gives it a really awesome story, but assures that you are getting Parmigiano-Reggiano how it should be–naturally, crumbly, and delicious!