Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fresh Ricotta Cheese

I made ricotta cheese for the first time this week.

I was nervous about it.

What is wrong with me?  I mean, who gets nervous about cheese???

Anyway, it was a smashing success. 

"It was stupid-easy," according to Paula Deen.

Now that I know how easy it is to make and how delicious the results are, I'll probably never purchase ricotta cheese again.

Basically, you boil milk and cream, stir in some vinegar, let it sit to curdle, then strain it so you're just left with the curds.  Piece of cake.  Well, actually, piece of cheese, but I guess that's just an expression.

I followed Barefoot Contessa's recipe almost exactly.  She has some equipment (i.e., large sieve and cheesecloth) that I don't have, so I improvised with a colander and paper towels.  And I reduced the amount of salt that she called for and I used regular white vinegar while Barefoot used the snooty white wine vinegar.  Just a few small differences.  So I'll show you how I did it!

First we have to set up our straining station.  Take a colander, line it with two layers of paper towels, and set it over a larger glass bowl.  Something like this:

Now, get out a big pot and pour in some whole milk and two cups of heavy cream. 

Add some kosher salt.

And bring it to a boil.  I know you're not supposed to boil milk and cream, but go with it.

As soon as it comes to a full boil, turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar.

Allow it to sit for about a minute.

Now it's time to pour it into our paper towel-lined colander.

The whey (liquid) will collect pretty quickly in the bowl.  I had to dump out the whey twice while the cheese strained.

I allowed mine to sit for 20 minutes and it was a nice consistency: thick but not too thick; moist but not too runny.  Perfect.

It looks a little weird, I know.  I thought it was ruined at this point.  I was wrong.

Put it into a container and stick it in the refrigerator.

While it was still warm, it looked odd to me.  I wasn't sure it was going to turn out.

But, I checked on it the next day and realized that it needs to chill completely to actually look like ricotta cheese.

You'll end up with a couple of cups total.  And you'll feel so fresh for having made your own cheese.

Now for the Asparagus Tart that I made using fresh ricotta cheese...

Fresh Ricotta Cheese
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

7 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
5 T white vinegar

Place a colander over a large bowl and line the colander with two layers of paper towels.

Stir together the milk, cream and salt in a large saucepan.  Bring to a full boil.

Immediately turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar.

Remove from the burner and let sit for one minute while it curdles.

Pour the mixture into the paper towel-lined colander.  Let it sit for 25-30 minutes.  This process separates the curds (solids) from the whey (liquids).  You will have to dump out the liquid that collects in the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while it drains.

Refrigerate the curds until ready to use.  This makes about two cups of ricotta cheese.


BWF said...

Ok, LOVE this. I bet you knew I would didn't you. Anything I can make home-made like this instead of buying it with all the added processed stuff from the store is just perfect for my semi-organic lifestyle. I wonder if Food Network would let me host a show called Semi-Organic? I digress.... thanks, girl! I'm so going to try this next time I make lasagna. LOVE IT!!!

Elizabeth said...

Your comment made me laugh! I knew you would love to make your own ricotta! I put it in my lasagna last night with my homemade bolognese and fresh was great. Oh, and I LOVE your Food Network idea! :) You should try out for Next Food Network Star!!! :)