8 oz. parmigiano-reggiano or aged montasio cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
2 T. plus 2 t. all-purpose flour
1 t. freshly ground black pepper or 1/2 t. ground cumin or dried rosemary, or to taste
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients. Heat a heavy 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce the heat slightly. Using a soup spoon, a measuring cup or a coffee cup, sprinkle 1 ounce (about 1/3 cup) of the cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the skillet to make a thin, lacy pancake. You should not be able to see the bottom of the skillet. You may have to adjust the heat; the cheese should sizzle when it hits the pan, but it should not smoke. Cook the crisp until the fine grains of cheese have melted together and the edges are just beginning to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute to set. If the crisp hardens too much, return the pan to the burner for a few seconds to warm it. With a plastic spatula, gently lift the crisp up by one edge and slide it onto a wire rack to cool until hardened, about 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture. When the crisps are completely cool, they can be carefully stacked and stored in a tin or box. Serve the crisps whole or broken into large irregular quarters and arranged standing in a basket.
Free-form Parmesan crisps (oven method): This method is a little easier than the stove-top method, though the crisps aren’t quite as charming looking. Success depends on using Silpat bakeware liners or other silicone baking mats to keep them from sticking to the baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a 16 1/2-by-11 1/2-inch Silpat liner on each of two 17-by-13-inch baking sheets. Sprinkle the cheese mixture evenly over the liners to form a large sheet of cheese on each. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until the crisps are bubbling and slightly puffy and the edges are golden. Let cool a minute or two, until the crisps are firm enough to slide off the liners onto a cutting board to cool. Cut into squares or rectangles with a chef’s knife, or you can break the crisps into free-form shapes. The crisps will keep for about 1 week in an airtight tin.
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