Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making ingredients again

I am currently quite pleased. I attempted something today that it had never occurred to me to do. I was inspired by this article, which made everything seem so very easy.

So today, I made ricotta cheese. I cut the recipe in half, but here's the original ingredient list:

8 Cups Whole Milk
.5 cup buttermilk
1 Cup heavy cream
3 T lemon juice
.5 t salt

Line a large sieve with a layer of fine-mesh cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.
Slowly bring milks, cream and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain for an hour. After discarding the liquid, cover and chill the ricotta. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
I found the instructions pretty easy to follow. At least I thought I did. I added the lemon juice and turned the heat down. Two minutes later, when there was no curdling, I realized I hadn't put in enough lemon juice. Back up with the heat, added more lemon juice, yet I was only getting very little bits of curd. I added some more buttermilk and then I got the curdling action I wanted. Into the sieve. 
An hour later, I had ricotta. The lightest, fluffliest, melt-in-your-mouth ricotta ever. I stirred about half of it into some polenta (about 1.5 cups dry) along with:
1.5 Cups chopped tomatoes
.25 cups fresh basil, torn
.5 cup chopped onion
.5 cup chopped mushrooms (chantarelles were on sale)
It was so good I forgot to top it with the parmesan, though I did drizzle it with a bit of olive oil before serving.
The day before, I had started some shoulder steaks marinating in a bottle of Paul Newman's Italian dressing. Quite tasty, but the polenta was definitely the star of the show.
Thanks for reading!

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