Frico (Cheese Crisps)
These cheese crisps can be made in a nonstick sauté pan one by one, but it's more efficient to make them in batches on baking sheets in the oven. The goal is to let the cheese melt to create a texture that's lacy but that still holds together, so be sure to sprinkle the cheese lightly. Serve as an hors d'oeuvre or to garnish a green salad.
1 cup finely shredded or grated (not chopped) Parmigiano-Reggiano (you can also try Asiago, aged Cheddar, aged Gouda, Manchego, or another hard cheese)
1/2 tsp. lightly toasted crushed cumin seed or fennel seed (or another spice if you like)
Heat the oven to 375°F. Cover two large baking sheets with parchment. Combine the cheese and spice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the mixture to form a 4- to 4-1/2 inch round. Spread the cheese evenly with a fork. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, leaving 2 inches between each round. Bake each sheet (one at a time) until the crisps just begin to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Don't let them fully brown or the cheese will be bitter. Use a spatula to lift the edges of the crisps and loosen them from the pan. Remove the crisps and immediately lay them over a rolling pin or the side of a bottle to give them a curved shape. Or for a flat frico, just transfer to paper towels. When cooled, store the crisps in an airtight container for up to two days.
nutrition information (per serving):
Photo: Scott Phillips
I was looking for a recipe to take to a World Cup party (thank goodness Spain beat Germany) and I wanted to use Spanish Manchego. This is PERFECT! I have a John Ash recipe from a Fine Cooking magazine from ages ago that I use all the time for polenta and smoked tomato sauce - I know this will be perfect.
I've been making these crisps for years, though without the cumin. I just use very good parmesan in the oven. Guests love them! It is very important not to let them overcook -- but is equally important for them to cook through. Watch the color, and taste the first batch after they've had the chance to cool a bit.