• Matt Felsenfeld

Fresh Ricotta



Ingredients

1 gallon whole milk (Get the highest quality, local whole milk you can find. This recipe is really only a few ingredients so each one will shine)

1 quart heavy cream (The same thing goes for the cream)

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup distilled white vinegar

2–3 tablespoons Kosher salt (This is an approximation and is very much to taste, especially at the end. When you salt the final ricotta, it should be to your liking)


Tools

Cheesecloth, cut into 2 feet x 1 foot and folded into a square (don’t eat this, it tastes terrible)

1 large mixing bowl

1 medium mixing bowl

A fine strainer (not a pasta strainer)


Notes before you begin

  • As I mentioned above, this is a recipe with very few ingredients. Therefore the quality of the ingredients you use will play a huge role in the final product. Get the local milk and cream, it will pay off in the end. Also, it’s always good to support local dairy farmers.

  • There are many instances in which I leave the amounts of certain ingredients vague. While this might not seem helpful in the moment, you should use this as an opportunity to experiment. If you like things a little saltier, add more salt. If you like extra pepper, add more pepper. One of the joys of experimenting with food is being a little imprecise and discovering what you like.

Instructions

  1. Mix the vinegar and lemon juice in a bowl together and set it aside.

  2. In a large saucepan, combine the cream, milk, and a few hefty pinches of salt (about a tablespoon). Let it come to a rolling boil over medium high heat. Be careful, as this can boil over quickly and burn. Cleaning burnt milk is never fun and can make your final product taste a little funky.

  3. As soon as the mixture begins boiling, count to ten, pour in the lemon juice/vinegar mixture, stir it all gently, and take the pan off the heat. I usually set it on a towel on the counter next to the stove.

  4. Wait ten minutes. Eat an apple. Call your mother. The world is your oyster for these ten minutes! Just make sure to get one large mixing bowl, one medium mixing bowl, and the cheesecloth ready.

  5. Using a fine strainer, fish the curds out of the pan, shake the strainer a little bit to shake off liquid, and put them in the medium bowl. Repeat this until you have collected as much of the curds as you can. Hold the strainer over the large bowl and pour the liquid from the pan through it. Throw any curds you collect into the medium bowl.

  6. While holding the strainer over the large bowl, pour all of the contents of the medium bowl (the curds) into the strainer and shake it again to get any remaining liquid out. Set the strainer with the curds aside.

  7. Take the cheesecloth square and place in the medium bowl with each corner hanging off the side. Pour the curds from the strainer into the cheesecloth and fold up each of the sides creating a ball. Gently twist the four corners together tightening the ball and squeezing out excess liquid into the large bowl. Do this to taste! Do you want a wetter ricotta? You can skip this step entirely. Want a dryer ricotta? Squeeze the curds until no more liquid comes out.

  8. Unwrap the cheesecloth and put the curds back into the medium bowl. Salt to your liking — adding a little at a time and gently mixing the mixture together. You can always add salt, you cannot remove it, so go slow.

  9. Boom! Fresh ricotta! Store in a glass jar or a container in the fridge for up to two weeks and use on literally anything.


More Ideas

Now that you have ricotta you can do so much with it! It is a creamy, cheesy, canvas on which you can paint. Here are a few ideas:


Honey Ricotta


Ingredients

Your ricotta

¼–1 cup Honey

Black pepper (freshly ground)

Salt (maybe, just keep it handy)

1 ½ tsp crushed pistachios (optional, but it gives the ricotta a great color)


Instructions

  1. Twist the pepper mill four to six times into the bowl of ricotta, to taste. I like to use fresh ground black pepper a lot, especially with sweet things. I think it can add a nice balance that can bring out earthier notes in the honey while the honey brings out the floral side of the pepper.

  2. Pour in the honey a little at a time (no more than 1/8th of a cup). Gently stir the ricotta together and taste. If you want it sweeter, add more honey. If you want a more delicate flavor, add less. At this point if you think it needs more salt, add a little in. Remember, go little-by-little here.

  3. If you so choose, sprinkle the crushed pistachios over the top.

  4. That’s it! This goes great on toast with some fresh cherry tomatoes, on a cheese board, or on whatever you feel needs it!


Calabrian Chili Ricotta


Ingredients

Your ricotta

4 Calabrian chilis in oil, stem removed, cut into rings

1–1 ½ tablespoons of the Calabrian chili oil

Black pepper (freshly ground)

Salt (maybe, just keep it handy)


Instructions

  1. Twist the pepper mill four to six times into the bowl of ricotta, to taste.

  2. Put the chili rings into the ricotta and gently fold them in. Calabrian chilies have fruity and very gentle heat. Their flavor plays with the inherent sweetness of the fresh ricotta and brightens the entire mixture.

  3. Half a tablespoon at a time, pour in the chili oil (what they are packed in) and gently mix with the ricotta. The oil can have a fair bit of heat so add this up to whatever heat level you like.

  4. Taste it! If you think it needs more salt, add salt a little at a time.

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