When my kids were small I made monkey bread a few times - balls of dough covered in butter, sugar and cinnamon, stuffed into a pan to rise and bake into each other. It was tasty, but it was also fun. This time I made a grown-up, savory version so my New Year’s guests could also have some fun.
Some time back, a good friend sent me a Parmigiano Reggiano “tasting,” samples of 18, 24, 36, 48, 60 and 72 months aged cheese. Unfortunately (only because of the expense), I was hooked on the 72 month Parmigiano. But it’s SO worth it!
Garlic and herb infused olive oil:
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, chives, basil), minced
2 tablespoons minced, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 packages RapidRiseYeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/3 cups very warm milk (120° to 130°F)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For infused oil: In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil, for a minute or two on low heat. Turn off the heat and add the herbs, garlic and salt. Set aside.
Combine flour, Parmigian, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in mixing bowl. Add milk to flour mixture and mix on low speed for 1 minute.
Stir in egg and olive oil and continue to mix on low for 1 to 2 minutes, or until well blended and dough pulls away from sides of bowl.
Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.
Lightly flour a work surface. Using hands, pat dough into a 10x12-inch rectangle, approximately 1-inch thick.
Divide dough into about 30 pieces using a pizza cutter or knife; roll into balls as shown below..
Dip dough balls into olive oil and herb mixture to lightly coat. Arrange coated dough balls evenly in bottom of greased springform pan. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with foil and place the tube pan on the baking sheet. This will protect your oven in case any oil drips out of your tube pan.
Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.
Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.
Remove sides from pan and serve with a sauce, letting your guests pull apart a piece and dip.
I used my pepperoni sauce, a family favorite. You can also use your favorite marinara or pasta sauce, but if you’d like to try the pepperoni sauce, go here:
Or go to https://www.playingwithfoodblog.com/post/tv-dinner-mozzarella-chicken-with-pepperoni-sauce
If you’d like to try this 72-month aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, or any one of their high quality Italian imports, try Emilia Food Love - https://us.emiliafood.love. Emilia, a few miles from Milan and Bologna and little more than two hours from Turin, Venice and Florence
Get some of this wonderful cheese soon - the next recipe (and maybe another) will be on dishes that are built around this wonderful ingredient.
And if you haven’t yet tried the pepperoni sauce, please do. You’ll wonder why you hadn’t made it sooner!