Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ricotta Cheese

After an experience with lasagna and ricotta cheese on a flight to Scotland when I was 14 years old, I was certain that there was no place in my life for ricotta cheese.  This all drastically changed when three years ago (give or take a few months) I had my first glimpse of how ricotta cheese should really taste.  I was eating lunch at Pizzeria 712 with my mom and sisters and had ordered a salad with beets and goat cheese.  I am a more mild cheese lover and so I had the goat cheese replaced with their homemade ricotta cheese.  Wow!  It was creamy and delicious and I couldn't get it off my mind.  I loved that cheese, but it never really occurred to me that I could actually make it.  After a little research and recipe hunting, an amazing thing happened, ricotta cheese was made in my very own kitchen and I was giddy.  I was really quite thrilled and I had that tight, excited feeling that I get when Christmas time rolls around.  There are so many ways to eat this creamy deliciousness, baked and spread on a crusty baguette, on pizza, in scrambled eggs, on toast with jam and the list goes on.  It is really simple to make and is sooooo worth it!
    

Ricotta Cheese

4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use 2 teaspoons Maldon salt)

Add ingredients to a 4-quart pot.  Attach a thermometer to the side of the pot (making sure that it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan).  Bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula to prevent scorching.  (Do not stir once the temperature reaches 170, it will become grainy.)  

Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot.

Once curds begin to separate from the whey (liquid temperature will be between 175 and 200 degrees), remove from heat.  Gently spoon or ladle the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer.  You may need to gently gather the cheesecloth at the top to help the curds drain.  

Let curds sit in cheesecloth to drain liquid 15 to 30 minutes.  Keep in mind the ricotta will thicken in the fridge, so don't drain it too much, or it will end up dry. 

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