In the lead up to San Francisco’s Fancy Food Show, I was invited by Legends from Europe to a sneak preview and tasting of their products and a cooking demonstration by award winning chef, author, and restauranteur Joanne Weir. I needed no prodding to accept.
Legends from Europe is a 3 year campaign funded by the European Union and launched in the U.S. to increase awareness and celebrate “the legendary quality, tradition and taste” of five authentic PDO products (Protected Designation of Origin) from Europe: Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Grana Padano and Montasio. These happen to be 5 of my favorite products to cook with and to eat. I know them well from when I lived in Europe, and now that I live in the US, I continue to use them – either presented on a cheese and charcuterie board or integrated in a number of my recipes. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of rustic European cuisine, and each of these superior products bring a little taste of old world Europe to my California kitchen.
~ Joanne Weir presenting her Montasio Frico ~
Not only am I a fan of Legends products, I am equally a fan of Joanne Weir, an award winning chef, author, television personality and chef-owner of the popular Copita Tequileria y Comida in Sausalito. As an added treat for this event, Weir created 5 mouthwatering recipes with the Legends products including Endive with Prosciutto San Daniele and Gradano; Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Brown Butter and Parmigiano Reggiano; and a Fennel Radicchio and Arugula Salad with Shaved Grana Padano. My 2 favorites (which says a lot) were a Prosciutto di Parma wrapped Halibut on a bed of Spiced Lentils and a sinfully rich Montasio Frico – a crispy wafer-thin cheese and potato tart for which I would have no qualms to wrestle my children for the last bite. Finally, to complete the experience, each dish was perfectly paired with a wine selected by Elisabetta Fagioli representing Cantine Giacomo Montresor, a well known Italian wine producer in Verona Italy.
Of the 5 products represented by Legends from Europe, Montasio is perhaps the least well-known. Montasio cheese is a firm cows milk cheese that ranges in color from ivory (fresh or young aged) to straw yellow (medium aged). Its origins may be traced back to a 17th century mountain monastery in the Alps of Friuli Venezia Giulia in Northeastern Italy. The fresh cheese is mild and delicate in flavor while the aged cheese is firmer in body with more strength in flavor. Fresh Montasio cheese is used in making the Friulan cheese crisp known as frico.
Montasio Frico with Bacon and Potatoes – recipe courtesy of Joanne Weir
For a vegetarian option, omit the bacon.
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup sliced and boiled potatoes
5 ounces Montasio cheese, shredded
Cook the bacon until golden in an 8-inch non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour off all of the fat. Add the cheese and cook until the cheese is melted and the edges are golden brown. The frico should be firm enough that it moves in the pan. (You may have to use a spatula and shake the pan a little). Blot with paper towels if there is an excess of oil on the top.
Place the potatoes in a single layer on the cheese. Invert a plate onto the top and turn the pan and the plate. Slide the frico back into the pan. Continue to cook until the second side is golden and the inside is still a little soft. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.