I know there are many stores and shops that make fine cheeses to use for our pizzas. I just believe that the fresher the better, so yesterday I attempted to make my own cheeses to have for my pizza for this weekend.
I made Ricotta, Mozzarella, and for the first time Burrata. For the Ricotta I used some recipes I found online and when messing with those for a bit I went straight to the best source I can possibly go to: my Dad who is a chef and my go to guy on all things food. I must say the results of which I will post recipes for the cheeses in the recipe section came out pretty damn good.
Burrata is basically a mozzarella ball stuffed with cream and shreds of mozzarella, but the mozzarella is really thin around the cream filling basically a pouch of pure heaven.
Here’s the recipe for the ricotta I used from:http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fresh-Homemade-Ricotta-234282 ( I changed where it says rolling boil to just around scorching because its tough to get a rolling boil from milk).
- 2 quarts whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine-mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.
Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to around 170 degrees in a heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour. After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered; it will keep in the refrigerator 2 days.
- 2 1/2 pounds of curd diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 pint heavy cream
- Salt to taste
• Begin by filling a large pot with an amount of water that is proportionate to the amount of curd with which you are working. Generally, 1 gallon of water per 3 pounds of curd is sufficient. Error on the side of excess. It’s better to have too much water than too little.
• Salt water using approximately 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water – more or less to taste. Heat water over medium high and continue preparation.
• Fill large 3-4” deep water pan or similarly shaped rectangular receptacle approximately half full with cool tap water.
• Set aside a small bowl measuring approximately 2-3 inches in depth and about 3-4 inches in diameter. Also, set aside, cheese cloth (cut into approx. 6″ by 6″ squares,) twist ties and plastic baggies or plastic wrap in which burrata will be housed once they are formed. Large non-zipping sandwich bags or plastic wrap cut into 1′x1′ squares will work. Place baggies in open position so they are ready to place the finished cheese into.
• In a large saute pan, begin heating heavy whipping cream over medium heat. The amount of heavy cream needed will depend on how many and how large a burrata you wish to make. Generally, 1/2 cup of cream per 1/2 # of curd is sufficient to yield 1 burrata of 8-9 oz.
• The cream must be stirred and temperature monitored while other preparations are being made. Do not scald the cream. If the cream starts to roll to a boil, immediately turn down to a simmer. Intermittently stir the cream gently in a zig-zag fashion being sure to constantly scrape the bottom and edges of the pan to release those wonderful buttery flecks.
• Heavy cream should be reduced by approximately 1/3 to 1/2 its volume. Once it has thickened and obtained an off-white buttery hue, remove from heat and transfer into a small bowl or 2-4 cup glass measuring cup. Set aside.
• Place desired amount of curd onto clean cutting board and dice finely into 1/4” cubes. Dicing does not have to be neat but it must remain fine or the curd will not melt evenly. Squeeze a piece of curd between fingers and note the consistency. It should feel springy almost like a soft piece of rubber. Transfer cut curd into a large bowl and set aside. It’s a good idea to not work with too much curd at once. If working with larger amounts consider working with no more than 2-3 pounds per batch.
• Monitor water temperature throughout process. When water reaches approximately 170 F, turn burner down to low and maintain temperature. Appropriate water temperature will vary slightly depending on size of batch. If temperature is too hot the curd will become too soft and gooey to form a shape; if it’s not hot enough the curd will not melt enough to smoothly shape. Anything over 170 F is hot enough to scald so be careful.
• In a separate bowl (a wide stainless steal one works great) place a handful of diced curd and, with a large pitcher or measuring cup, scoop heated water out of pot and poor over curd in bowl, submerging it. This curd is just for incorporating into the reduced cream, about 1/2 cup per cup of reduced cream; it’s there to give the creamy interior or the burrata a bit more body.
• After a minute or two, dump the water and submerge the curd in a second bath until it has become fully melted and easily forms into once smooth shape. Remove the curd from water and quickly shred or chop into tiny bits adding them to the semi-cooled reduced cream. Stir and set aside.
• In same bowl, now empty, place an amount of curd that comfortably fits between cupped hands (about the size of a baseball.) Unlike mozzarella, with which a large amount of curd can be melted at once and balls quickly rolled, burrata is a little more time consuming so it’s advisable to only work with a single portion at a time, particularly for beginners.
• Briefly stir curd making sure that cubes are not bound together thus allowing the water to evenly heat the curd. Allow curd to bathe for a few minutes until a cube gives under pressure easily like soft putty. The softened of curd should noticeably have begun to cling together more readily as a single mass.
• Drain water from bowl and submerge curd in second bath of hot water. With gentle pressure, run spatula down over curd smoothing it out and working it into one mass. Curd should now be coagulating and becoming extremely soft.
• With hands (utensils can be used but superior control is gained by using hands) start to gather a mass pressing it together, turning it over on itself, until the pieces have completely melted into one shiny smooth mass. The water is hot and this kind of hurts – but the end result is worth it. NOTE: Keep in mind to not over-work the curd. If the curd is over-worked the finished product will lose its wonderful tender consistency.
• Once the curd is ready, remove from water and immediately begin working it into shape.
• Cupping both hands and holding with palms facing up, begin working the curd by gently pressing thumbs and heel of hand down over the top portion, rotating mass counterclockwise, creating a smooth surface, while gently pushing up with other fingers almost as if shaping a mushroom cap. Once a smooth semi-sphere begins to take shape, begin to flatten into a pancake shape, holding vertically between flattened hands and rotating inwards. Once flattened to about 6″ to 8″ in diameter, place smooth side down over top of small bowl, draped with prepared cheese cloth (previously set aside) and allow to droop inwards essentially forming an interior lining on the bowl with a little extra hanging over the sides. You may have to help it into place.
• Stir cream mixture once more and immediately scoop or pour carefully into the pouch. Gently and swiftly lift two opposite sides of the pouch together followed by the other two sides, creating pleats, so all sides of pouch meet and twist and pinch it together.
• Take the bound “beggar’s purse” and tie off with kitchen string. There should be enough at the sealed end to quickly lift the pouch and drop directly into the prepared baggies. Seal tightly with a twist tie. NOTE: If using squares of plastic wrap, you should line the bowl with the plastic before you place the cheese in, thereby allowing you to seal the pouch and wrap in plastic in one step.
• Place the sealed pouches in the pan of cool water and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
• This cheese really should be enjoyed immediately while the interior is still warm and oozy though it can be refrigerated for up to three days. If refrigerated, the interior will firm up a little so place the cheese out at room temperature for an hour or so before serving.