But when Tummy Treasure raved about Kraft's new Grate It Fresh product, I wanted to try it for myself. Within a week, it seemed to show up everywhere ... at one grocery end cap after another, then at Wal*Mart ... always on sale for the equivalent of $6 - 7 a pound.
So I bought some. At least I thought I bought some.
I really truly didn't know, until just now checking Erika's review to link to this post, that what I really bought (and cooked with) was Kraft's green-can-in-new-clothes Parmesan cheese. I didn't know the packaging had changed! I bought the stuff so hated as a child.
And oh dear oh dear ....... my foodie credentials are SO about to be yanked.
You see, I did side-by-side taste tests in this broccoli casserole, testing what I THOUGHT was the new Kraft product and real Parmesan. My take? there was MINIMAL difference between real Parmesan Reggiano at $13.99 a pound and Kraft's green-can product for $6 - $7 a pound.
- The real stuff did smell better and more cheesy right out of the oven.
- The real stuff did have a tiny tiny bit of that tell-tale Parmesan tang.
- But honestly, taste-wise, there was no telling the difference.
- And I loved the broccoli casserole ... both sides.
That said, here's my thought. Should we ditch good Parmesan? (Not that I'd persuade the foodie-est among us.) I think not ... because good Parmesan may be like good olive oil. You save the good stuff for recipes where it's central to a dish's preparation, a dish's proportion.
What ... pray say ... do you think?
DO YOU SUPPOSE ... this qualifies for "Weekend Obnoxious But Amazingly Tasty" at A Fridge Full of Food? Let's try!
NEXT TIME ...
- I'll slip the casserole under the broiler to give a little color to the bread crumbs. (Oh! I just now remembered that the recipe had this tip for browning: spraying the bread crumbs with cooking spray before going into the oven. This would be worth a try.)
- I'll never again use bread flour in a white sauce. I was out of all-purpose. Man, was it hard to incorporate the liquids! And even then, working ever so slowly, the white sauce ended up a tad lumpy.
BROCCOLI PARMESAN CASSEROLE
Adapted from Cooking Light August 2006
Hands-on time: 45 minutes (with fresh broccoli, probably 35 with frozen)
Time to table: 60 minutes
Weight Watchers 3 points per serving
NetCarb 18 per serving
Salted water to cover
2 pounds fresh broccoli
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 1/2 cups skim milk (I was out of milk, too, so watered down some half & half)
1 cup fat-free chicken broth (I used a bouillion cube)
1 cup grated cheese (I used provolone, the recipe called for reduced-fat extra sharp cheddar)
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
[Diced pimento - for color, I skipped this]
1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko, the recipe called for 12 ground garlic melba toasts)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400F (to save oven time, do this about the time the broccoli's done).
BROCCOLI Bring the salted water to a boil in a large covered pot. While the water heats, trim the broccoli. (Use a vegetable peeler to pare away as much thick skin as can be reached on the trunks. Chop the trunks into bite-size pieces and set aside. Cut the florets into bite-size pieces and separately set aside. Why separately? Because they need different cooking times.) Drop the trunks into the water and let cook til soft about 7 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Drop florets into the water and cook for about 4 minutes, until cooked but still bright green. Drain in a colander.
SAUCE In a medium saucepan on MEDIUM, stir together the flour, salt and mustard. A tablespoon at a time to start, stir in the milk and chicken broth, incorporating each new addition before adding more. Let cook until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Stir in 1 cup of the grated cheese, Parmesan and pepper. Gently combine the broccoli and sauce (use the pan the broccoli cooked in). Transfer to a well-greased baking pan.
TOPPING Mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over top. Spray the top with cooking spray. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 8, Per Serving: 174 Cal (20% from Fat, 31% from Protein, 49% from Carb); 14 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 22 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb18; 277 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 480 mg Sodium; 10 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3 points