Monday, June 2, 2008

Fresh Ricotta

So JES, the owner of JES publishing, came by my desk the other day and handed me the NYT section with a piece about fresh ricotta (Suddenly Ricotta's a Big Cheese, NYT, 28 May 2008). I couldn't resist it.

Although I had a long day to travel to another client's place on the west coast of Florida, on my ride back, all I could think about was making fresh ricotta. To the point I called Ian so he could read me then text me the ingredients for the ricotta and for the pasta recipe included in the story (Pasta with Tomato Broth, Bacon, Peas and Ricotta--In fact, that was the day I sent a note about bacon to Twitter).

Fresh ricotta was surprisingly easy with a recipe from Michael Chiarello: --1/2 gallon whole milk mixed with 2 cups buttermilk. Heat over high, stirring, to 175 degrees (stirring until it starts to steam; yes, I use a candy thermometer). Spoon the curds into a cheesecloth (he says ladle; a slotted spoon seemed to make more sense to me...) and let drain first five minutes, gather the cloth up, then let rest another 15 minutes. You get 2 cups of smooth, creamy--and, yes, bland--spread--but it is a fresh addition to other things. (Is it a deal? I dunno. I spent $4 on half a gallon of organic whole milk and another $1.50 (more or less) on the buttermilk. Perhaps not a deal, but very well worth it...) Here is a photo of the end result.

I made the pasta with bacon and peas, as noted. You dollop a nice amount of the fresh, soft ricotta onto the hot pasta, then stir it into the sauce and grate some fresh parm on top. Ian went wild for that pasta...I want to add that the color photo in the NYT makes the peas look more like edamame...and I wish I'd had cavatelli, which is between gnocchi and a pasta.

The other recipe (I'll have to make more; I gave the remaining ricotta to JES since it was all at his inspiration) in the NYT is for crostini with ricotta, fresh thyme and dried oregano. Okay, guess I'll have to make some more fresh ricotta.


Anonymous said...

I am a huge ricotta fan, and I actually learned how to make the fresh stuff at a cheese-making class in San Francisco last year. It really is embarrassingly easy.

I came home from the class saying, "I'm SO going to make fresh ricotta ALL the time!"

Haven't done it yet. And feeling just a little jealous, quite frankly, that within a day of reading that NYT article you already made the cheese. Well done!

Mari said...

I had an amazing crust-less ricotta torte with zucchini flowers and baby zucchini at a restaurant on my birthday and it was so good. The ricotta was homemade, but I never considered how easy it might be. Thanks for sharing, I'm going to give this a try soon!

Anonymous said...

I made ricotta and fresh mozzarella a couple of times after taking a cheesemaking class. I used citric acid and rennet to curdle the milk for the mozzarella; ricotta ("re-cooked") is made from the leftovers. The story on my blog is below and there's a link in it to Ricki Carroll's website ( which is a mail order source for all things cheese.

Haven't made any in a while, but someone told me about SMOKED MOZZARELA they made and that is definitely on the list this summer.

Babette said...

Don--thanks for the link.. Maybe Cheese Maker is my next career. I'm already a great cheese eater.

Mevrouw, love the sound of that ricotta torte. Might need to create that too...

Cheryl--I said the same, that I am SO going to make this all the time. We shall see. Although I have to say, next time I find a recipe that requires ricotta, I wouldn't hesitate to make the ricotta first and then turn to the recipe...Worth it.

Thanks for comments, all