It's Wednesday, so obviously I'm craving wine. This leads me to then crave cheese. Which potentially will leave me craving more wine -- but that's beside the point. Since the thought of no cheese with my wine literally kills me, I've learned how to make my own fresh ricotta at home.
This simple ricotta is perfect on a crusty baguette drizzled with honey and reduced balsamic vinegar, stuffed in roasted eggplant and topped with fresh tomatoes or -- for when you're really lazy and craving instant satisfaction -- by the heaping spoonful. Also, it beats the shit out of the store-bought kind.
Here's how I make it:
- Large Bowl
- Cheese Cloth (or other loosely woven, clean and non-dyed fabric)
- Whole or Skim Milk
- Heavy Cream
- White Wine Vinegar (or Buttermilk as an alternative)
- Salt to taste
Set a strainer over a large bowl and line with two pieces of dampened cheese cloth.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring two cups of milk and one cup of heavy cream to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste, about ½ tsp. Off the heat, add 1½ tbsp of white wine vinegar. Set aside to rest one minute, allowing the curdling process to begin.
Pour mixture over strainer and allow to drain at room temperature 20-25 minutes, discarding excess liquid from bowl as it fills up. Allow to drain until ricotta is desired consistency. For firmer cheese, allow to drain in fridge for a few hours.
Alternatively, buttermilk can be used as an acid instead of the vinegar. Bring three cups milk, one cup cream, and 1½ cups buttermilk to a rapid simmer over medium low heat. Once the curdling begins and the milk solids rise, turn off the heat and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Add salt to taste and strain over cheese cloth like above.
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This will make about one cup of ricotta. Use cheese immediately or cover in plastic wrap and store in fridge for five to seven days.