One of the things I love about Costco is the availability of extremely high quality products. One of these products that I love is the Kirkland Signature Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
I consider it a luxury to have an abundant supply of one of the greatest cheese in the world just a few miles down the road from my house. The cheese is available as a small wedge (~1.5 lbs) or grated in a one pound container.
What is Parmigiano Reggiano?
Parmigiano Reggiano is a dry, hard cheese made in the regions of Italy between the Reno and Po rivers (Modena, Parma, Reggio Emilia, etc). The cheese is protected by the DOP designation which means only cheese produced in this region can be called Parmigiano Reggiano.
You can tell that the cheese being sold at Costco is authentic from:
- The DOP label
- The identifying pin pricked rind
- The incredible flavor
This cheese is the Gold Standard of the Parmesan cheese style.
All Parmigiano Reggiano must be aged for at least 12 months during which time it takes on a nutty flavor, strong aroma and crumbly texture. As the cheese ages beyond the 12 month mark the flavors become more complex.
The cheese currently being sold at Costco is a delicious version which has been aged for over 24 months. I have seen reports the Costco sometimes sells a 36 month old variety that is known as Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio.
One of my favorite features in a well aged Parmigiano Reggiano are the crunchy pieces of crystalized amino acids that explode with flavor. These crystals can sometimes look like flecks of white mold on the surface of the cheese and, when I am buying the cheese, I will look for the wedge with the most flecks that I can find.
The wedge currently costs $12.49 per pound so a 1.5 pound piece will set you back about $20.
The grated cheese costs about a dollar more per pound due to the extra processing and packaging but since it comes in a one pound container you can walk out of the store with it for $14.
As far as value is concerned, the cheese is a bargain at Costco. You will be hard pressed to even find a 24 month aged wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano in most stores and if you due then expect to pay around $20 per pound.
How to Serve
The three main ways to serve this cheese are:
- Grated over Pasta
- Sliced/Chunked with Fruit/Balsamic Vinegar/Honey
- Adding the Rind to Soups/Risotto
You can turn a simple cooked pasta into an amazing meal simply by tossing it with some high quality extra virgin olive oil and topping it with a pile of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Once you start using this stuff you will never want to use the grated cheese from a green can again.
You can elevate a charcuterie board by adding pieces of this cheese along with slices of apples and pears. I say “pieces” because chances are that it will crumble when you try to slice it. That is okay, go ahead and embrace the rusticness.
The cheese is amazing when drizzled with honey or a well age balsamic vinegar.
Save the Rind
You can save the tough, hard rind and use it as a flavoring agent.
I break up the rind into one inch sections which makes them the perfect size to drop into a pot of soup. The rind will mostly melt and render some really nice flavor.
The wedges that I get at Costco typically have a “Best Buy” date that is around six months after the date of purchase.
Once the wrapper is taken off the only thing that really impacts the quality of the cheese is the moisture from you refrigerator. The humidity inside your refrigerator can cause some moisture to condense on the cheese which, after a month or so, will enable some mold to grow.
If you see a few moldy spots on the cheese then simply scrape them off with a knife and wipe the cheese with a paper towel.
Remember, this cheese is sometimes aged for over five years. It will last a few months in your refrigerator just fine!