Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ricotta 101 - Make this!!

Here is the feel-good recipe of the month, maybe even the whole year. Homemade ricotta cheese. It is empowering because what was once a mystery is now at your command, and it is a revelation to anyone who ever thought of ricotta as a mere ingredient as opposed to something delicious on its own.
Words cannot describe the unbelievable silky, creamy, salty, sweet smoothness of homemade ricotta - still warm-ish, slathered on crackers (also homemade - recipe to come).

Ridiculously easy, and the transformation from milk to cheese is nothing short of a miracle.

Heat 2 quarts of whole milk and 1 t. salt in a large sauce pan. When it comes to a simmer, add 2 T. lemon juice and stir gently for a minute or two - curds will form immediately and separate from the whey. Take it off the heat and let it rest a minute or two, then gently scoop the curds out with a slotted spoon and drain in a fine mesh sieve, or a coarse sieve lined with cheesecloth. Let drain a few minutes, then scoop into a bowl and let cool a bit. Eat slightly warm or at room temperature, plain, or sprinkled with pepper or herbs. Refrigerate any leftovers - (Ha ha ha - that's kind of an inside joke. Unless you double this, there will be NO leftovers!)
There is a pronounced lemony flavor when the cheese is less than an hour old, but that fades a bit into the sweetness of the cheese itself after that time.

I am trying this in lasagne soon, and will report out as soon as I do. I am also wondering if vinegar would work as well as lemon juice - chemistry say it should. More research is clearly called for.

1 comment:

LaDue & Crew said...

I LOVE homemade ricotta. I have never tried vinegar, only lemon, so I am curious. I love adding a few almond slivers and a bit of sweetener, and eating it for dessert. How people could have any left over is beyond me! One of my fav recipes though is Sfinge, Deep fried Italian donut balls... oh, heavenly memories!