I’m going to visit my favorite farmer this weekend. He and his wonderful wife are just back from 3 months of gallivanting around New Zealand. He sent me a message a few days ago asking if I were ever going to teach a cheese-making class locally, and I responded that I was mulling over just that. In fact, his farm might be just the place to do it on a summer evening. You know, fresh cheese, good bread, outstanding vegetables . . . sounds heavenly to me.
I’m going to take him some ricotta with fresh herbs. It’s a great starter cheese because it is just so simple to make. I thought I had everything I needed, but realized I needed to make a run to the store for buttermilk. I went ahead and got a quart because I’m also going to make crème fraîche this weekend in my yogurt maker.
CREAMY HOMEMADE RICOTTA by Jennifer Perillo
Makes 2 cups
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Add the ingredients to a 4-quart [stainless steel] pot. Bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot.
- Once the curds begin to separate from the whey (you’ll see little specks of white bob to the surface), stir gently and set heat to the lowest setting (see NOTE). Cook for 2 more minutes, then remove pot from heat and set on an unlit back burner for at least 30 minutes, and up to one hour. (this will help the curds further develop).
- Gently ladle the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer (this helps produce a fluffier, creamier curd, than pouring it into the strainer). When all the curds have been spooned into the bowl, pull the cheesecloth up the sides to loosely cover the ricotta in the strainer. Let sit for 10 minutes to drain (this will yield a very moist ricotta. If using for a cake recipe, you may want to let it drain longer for a drier consistency).
- Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- NOTE: After making one to two pots of ricotta for a year, I’ve learned it likes to be left alone to produce the highest yield, so resist the temptation to stir it frequently once the curds begin to separate from the whey. One stir is enough, and if you’re curious, you can dip the spoon in the pot once or twice to see how the curds are developing.
- MY NOTE: Don’t deviate from Jennifer’s directions, especially Step 5. DO resist the urge to stir the curds. I’m going to let mine sit in the strainer lined with cheesecloth for a good hour, as I want the cheese to be more dry than creamy. Mine is going to top a pizza Saturday night. It just occurred to me that it would be fantastic in Lost Shoes Risotto, too. The one I’m going to take to my favorite farmer I’ll shape into a ball and roll it in some chopped fresh herbs.
- By the way, keep the no-pun-intended whey that drains off and use it in place of water for a bread dough, or as Antonia James and sdebrango suggest in Comments, use it to make polenta.