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Oct 31, 2006 01:05 AM

parmesan question/problem?

wussup hounds,

Whenever I make pasta and add some parmesan (or other dried cheese) at the end it always seems to clump up in a coagulated mess. How do I avoid this problem? take the pasta off heat? mix the parmesan with some pasta water or oil before adding? sprinkle in small amounts? Any tips would be appreciated. thanks

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  1. Absolutely take it off the heat unless you're purposely melting it into the sauce.

    1. Lidia B always "shuts off" the heat before adding the grated cheese.

      1. The cheese should be added after you've tossed the pasta with the sauce in the serving dish. Or even to individual servings, at the table.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          One way to avoid clumping is rather than using grated parmesan, use shaved parmesan. You're ultimately achieving the same result, and cosmetically, the plate even looks a little more appealing (without the clumping).

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Actually, the more recommended practice is to add a portion of the grated cheese to the hot pasta off the heat (the pan if it is not too hot, or in a warmed mixing bowl; NEVER do this on a cold bowl or plate unless you want coagulation, hint, hint...) *before* mixing with the sauce. That way the cheese is absorbed by (because the pasta is still drawing in what it can) and bound to the pasta, instead of sliding off with the sauce. Then mix with sauce and finish with the remainder of the cheese.

            If you add the cheese to a pan that is still very very hot, or to pasta in a cold bowl or plate, you will get nastiness with the cheese. Avoid the extremes.

            1. re: Karl S

              Good tip. I've never seen Italians do that, but Americans typically use three or four times as much sauce.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Well, it's Italian chefs who stated rather categorically that one adds cheese to the pasta in a warmed bowl first. Obviously, this doesn't work for pasta that is to be finished cooking in the sauce in the sauce pan. But some sauces are properly placed at the bottom of the warm bowl, the hot pasta place atop the sauce, then the cheese sprinkled over the hot pasta, then you mix the cheese into the pasta, then you draw the pasta and sauce together, et cet.

                One key problems for Americans mixing and serving pasta is the use of cold or tepid bowls or plates. Renders good what might have been excellent but for that error.

          2. I always add grated parm on top of the pasta, sauced, as a garnish.
            I've started to save the rinds from parm in the freezer. Just toss them in a freezer bag and keep on hand. When I make sauce, I throw one of the rinds into it and it gives a nice parm background note.


            1. Are you using real, freshly grated parm? I use it in all sorts of ways, from serving it at the table to incorporating it into sauces while the sauce is still cooking, and I've never had clumping. But I wonder if you are using that pre-shredded kind, if that would clump.

              1 Reply
              1. re: christy319

                Being italian, I don't allow myself to use pre-shredded.But Is there any difference between shredding and grating the parmesan?