So there we were, watching an Anthony Bourdain episode on Italy. He visits a restaurant where the cook whips up a variety of mouthwatering pasta dishes. But what caught my eye was the parmesan bowls. Without fuss or fanfare, he produced the parmesan bowls, which were then filled with pasta and served. It was so clever and he made it look so easy. It was time for some kitchen science!
Accordingly, I showed up at Michael’s the next day with the ingredients for Fettuccini Carbonara, and a whole lot of extra parmesan.
My first attempt was an abject failure because I didn’t use a nonstick pan. After figuring that out, things went a lot better.
Preheat a heavy bottomed nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle grated parmesan in an even layer—not too thick, as the finished bowl should have a lacey appearance.
Let the cheese melt, then cook until browned on the bottom. You can peek under the edge with a fork, or wait until the top of the cheese looks like it is beginning to stiffen. This takes about a minute.
Remove from heat, and turn the skillet upside down over a bowl. Gently peel the parmesan from the skillet with a fork, taking care not to stretch it, until it falls onto the bowl. Make sure it is draped into an even bowl shape, and then leave it alone until it cools and hardens. Repeat to make as many bowls as desired. Parmesan bowls are an elegant way to serve pasta or a salad.