I remember the first time I ever made a fresh ricotta — it was like magic. It was a few months into culinary school, and the particular kitchen we were in had a bunch of milk and half and half that needed to be used up, lest it end up spoiled in the garbage. Chef told us to get some huge pots — the kind you’d use to make gallons of stock — and pour all the milk in it. Not but a little while later, we had beautiful, soft, fresh ricotta cheese. It was nothing like the gloppy, congealed kind I’d come to know from the grocery store. No, this cheese was light, fluffy, and as soft as a pillow. What’s more incredible is that it’s one of the easiest things to make at home (and impress your friends with).
The recipe? Curdle some milk. No really, that’s it. You boil some dairy — whole milk, and whatever other full fat cream or half and half you have on hand — then put acid in it. Use lemon juice, vinegar, or as I did this weekend, both! Strain it, and let it hang out for a few minutes, and boom, you’ve got ricotta cheese. It’s really as simple as that.
The real joy in making fresh ricotta at home is deciding what you want to put on top of it. I’m particularly fond of it spread on some toasted bread, and topped with bright flavors like a vinegary cherry tomato salad with basil. But it’s light sweetness and softness means it’s also perfectly at home with a drizzle of honey and a bit of melon, too. You’re really only limited by your imagination!
If the best part of fresh, homemade ricotta is deciding what to garnish it with, the second best part is the surprise and delight of your guests when you serve it. Most people won’t expect you to make a fresh cheese from scratch at home, and they’re doubly surprised by how different — and more luxurious! — it is than the ol’ store bought kind. Give it a try! Here’s what you do: Read the full post +