Friday, February 6, 2009

Fresh Ricotta

It’s an honor to be guest Lad, so thanks to Erin for inviting me. I thought this would be an appropriate posting since it reminded me that many things are easily made at home—and they’re better, too!

I’m friends with Sally Swift, who produces the radio show “The Splendid Table” with Lynne Rossetto Kasper. This past weekend I ran into Sally at a dinner party and we were talking cooking. I proudly told her that I had starting making my own ravioli, but pride turned to shame when she discovered I purchased ricotta cheese for the filling. “Oh, but Eric, it’s SO easy to make yourself!” My cheeks flushed and I vowed to learn more about it.

The next day I opened up “The Splendid Table” cookbook and turned to page 454. Sally was absolutely right; it’s a snap. First, heat up some milk, cream and lemon juice to 170 degrees over low heat, not stirring more than 3-4 times. This must be done slowly—mine took 45 minutes to come to that temperature. Once you reach 170, increase the heat to medium and bring it to 208 degrees without stirring. Then turn off the heat and let it sit. After 10 minutes, pour it into a damp, double thickness cheesecloth-lined colander set over a bowl, and if you’re like me, a light bulb will go off over your head as you finally understand why it’s called “cheesecloth.” Let it drain for 15 minutes, add our friend, salt, and you’re all set! You’ve got smooth and creamy ricotta cheese that you’ll want to eat by the handful.

A couple of things to note about making ricotta: non-reactive pans and utensils must be used. And pasteurized cream is recommended, which is a little harder to find than ultrapasteurized; I found Cedar Summit Farms cream worked perfectly.

For a pound of ricotta cheese:
  • 2½ quarts whole milk
  • ¾ cup less 1 tablespoon heavy cream, pasteurized but not ultrapasteurized or sterilized
  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

Follow the directions above, and, when finished, turn the cheese into a covered storage container, add salt if desired, and refrigerate the ricotta until needed. The finished cheese keeps 4 days in the refrigerator.


Eric said...

Yay! My first guest post on your blog!

Now, everyone please make clever and insightful comments so that Erin will ask me to post again. Go.

the chef said...

Cheese making rules. Ricotta is so versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. I've always wanted to make ricotta gnocchi and a ricotta cheesecake, yet never have. Thanks to your inspiring guest post, I think I will! You're one crafty lad.

Eric V. said...

I once made a ricotta cheesecake that I brought to a dinner party, and it was a bust. The hostess said it tasted like pasta without the sauce. I would love to try making a ricotta cheesecake again with fresh ricotta. Thanks, Lad!

burt c said...

The flavor is just so fresh, not like store bought Ricotta. Boyfriend, you are so clever!

thecelticcookinshanghai said...

Good to read your blog although today You had a guest blogger. Look forward to reading more. I am about to try and crack making fresh mozzarella. Hope it is as successful as Eric. Oysters and a blog chat sounds good to me.