September 13, 2015

Fresh Ricotta

Ricotta: For when you're torturing lemons, and you get hungry
It's the Jewish High Holiday season! Which is why I'm posting this today as opposed my normal Tuesday. In classic Jewish tradition, on Tuesday I'll either be lamenting all of my sins from this past year, or I'll be in an epic food coma. It's pretty much impossible to tell which. And since it's a traditional Jewish Holiday season full of traditional Jewish this and that, we're making something awesome that has absolutely nothing to do with any of that! I've been meaning to get more into the cheese making, and Ricotta is a great place to start. Because it's simple, awesome, only mildly disgusting, and let's us severely question the mental capacity of nursery rhyme characters. You'll see.


1/2 Gallon of Whole Milk
1.5 Cups Heavy Cream
3 Lemons
1/2 tsp Salt
Cheesecloth. Or, if all of the stores open when you decide to make cheese at 2 AM on a Sunday morning don't sell cheesecloth because fate is capricious and unfair, good quality Coffee Filters.

Some of you might be thinking, "That's a small list of ingredients. This is gonna be easy!" Some of you may be thinking "That's a suspiciously small list of ingredients. This is gonna suuuuuuck." Good news! You're both kind of right! The first thing you're gonna need to do is heat up your Milk and Cream, over medium-low heat. You don't want the Cream and Milk to boil, burn, or scald, so ideally use a heavy-bottomed pan, and stir it relatively regularly. Lots of nonsense recipes will tell you to use frying/candy thermometers to make sure your mixture hits a certain temperature range, and you're welcome to do that if you like wasting your time and effort. Or, you could just make sure that it's warm, but not HOT. Can you handle that? Really? Alright, fine, use your damn thermometer.

Add in the juice from your lemons a little bit at a time while stirring. I add it in by the half-lemon, but if you're one of those "squeeze all of your lemons ahead of time" kinds of people, who probably has a shelf in your cupboard for shelf-liners, add in your lemon juice a Tablespoon at a time. And know that we probably can't be friends. The acid from the Lemons is going to start to curdle the Milk and Cream, separating it into thick, white, floaty curds, and murky, thin, whey (Nobody in their right mind...nobody, would consider this to be a reasonable snack food. Little Miss Muffet was probably on lots and lots of drugs. Which is a different recipe) . It will be very obvious when this separation happens. It looks gross. It's like if milk sneezed and didn't have a tissue. Turn the heat off, and let it sit for about 20 minutes to more fully separate.

Not pictured: 20 minutes spent deciding between
Pita Chips and tortilla chips.
Now comes the fun part, and by "fun" I mean.....squishy, I guess. Take a fine  strainer, or a slotted spoon, and remove your floaty gross curds from your somehow-grosser whey. Throw the curds in a bowl and stir in the Salt. Then stuff them into Cheesecloth, and figure out some way to dangle it over something. The two most preferred methods are just sticking the cheesecloth back in the strainer and putting it in the sink, or using the complicated tie-it-to-a-spoon-and-dangle-it-in-a-pot method. Which isn't actually that hard, but doesn't really have any added value over the infinitely simpler strainer method. Of course, this all assumes you have basic things like cheesecloth and strainers. If life likes to mess with you as much as it does with me, it's time to punch causality in the throat and stuff your Curds in your coffee filters, then stab your coffee filters with chopsticks and dangle them inside of drinking glasses. Let it sit and drain for about 2 hours, and you've got creamy, delicious, Ricotta! Which you can use in about 1000 different recipes. Or you can just dunk pita chips you bought from Walgreens into it and eat  it straight. Which I'm pretty sure is an Italian tradition dating back to the bronze age, when all they had were primitive proto-Walgreens. Enjoy!

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