Thursday, March 8, 2012

Homemade Ricotta

This is one of those things that are SO easy to make and yet SO good it's almost inconceivable. I tried Michael Chiarello's home recipe for this first but owing much more to my inexperience than the recipe, it didn't really turn out that great. I was stuck for a good ricotta and needed something other than the usual stuff you find in supermarkets which, IMO, is pretty horrible (or as they say where I grew up on Long Island, 'hahhrribull').

I based this recipe on one I found here on the fantastic cooking blog Smitten Kitchen, who, I believe, in turn got it from a store in Brooklyn. This dish came out fantastically well and I strongly urge you to try it yourself.

3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large price cheesecloth

Wash and rinse a large piece of cheesecloth. (The cloth needs to be large enough to drape over a colander folded about 6 times over itself.)
Heat the milk and cream with the salt in a saucepan over fairly high heat stirring occasionally with a rubber or wood spatula to make sure the liquid doesn't scorch the bottom of the pan.
Drape the cheesecloth over a colander sitting in a bowl or over a large pot. (the bowl/pot will be collecting the whey).
When the liquid reaches about 190 (should only take a few minutes) the curds (the solids) should start to separate from the whey (the liquid). Gently stir the milk around to encourage the separation which should happen quite quickly. Once they have pretty much broken apart, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to sit for a few minutes.
Gently stir the lemon juice into the pot then pour the contents into the cheesecloth covered colander and allow to drain for about an hour or two. This separates the curds (which will become the cheese) from the whey (which is the liquid that drains into the pot).
Once drained, use a rubber spatula to carefully scoop out the curds into a container to either use right away or to store for up to a week in the frig.

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