Homemade Ricotta – Just do it!

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Those near and dear to me know my predisposition to classic, simple ingredients and dishes. Ricotta cheese is one of those ingredients. I have been in love with ricotta cheese since my first taste of it as an ingredient layered into lasagna. Then I saw it shine as the star of ricotta pie from Maria’s Pastry in Boston’s North End, a dessert that my sister in-law traditionally served at our Easter celebration. In Cucina Rapida, Clifford Wright suggested serving ricotta drizzled with honey. I add pistachios or almonds for the perfect 3-ingredient dessert (or breakfast).

In 2005, we traveled to Sicily and the ricotta cheese produced there rocked my world. Sicilian ricotta is made from sheep’s milk rather than cow’s milk giving it a distinct flavor and texture. Call me crazy but I have already started to search out the availability of sheep’s milk at Maine farmer’s markets because now that I have successfully produced a single 16-ounce batch of homemade ricotta, I am ready for more.

My summer read is Molly Wizenberg‘s Delancey and I am enjoying every single word of it. It’s a tale of a young couple and a pizzeria. Molly has a wonderful way of weaving words together, telling stories and always managing to loop it back to food and she is a very talented recipe writer. What’s not to like? Chapter 5 ends with a recipe for ricotta cheese and after I read the recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.

Ricotta Recipe from Delancey by Molly Wizenberg:

6 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups cultured buttermilk (I love Kate’s)
1 tsp. kosher salt

Combine everything in a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring to prevent scalding. Use a candy thermometer to determine when the mixture reaches 180 degrees. You will see the curds starting to form and the mixture will appear to separate.

Cook for 5 more minutes without stirring. Remove the pot from the heat and let it for 30 minutes for the curds to strengthen.

Set a strainer over a container and line with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Pour ricotta onto cheesecloth and let strain until a desired consistency is reached.

Stir in salt, I used the whole amount. Refrigerate until needed. Molly suggests eating it in the first few days for optimal flavor but it will last for at least a week.

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he curd beginning to separate.

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W
hey is in the jar, apparently you can use it for all kinds of things. FYI – It makes more ricotta than pictured because I was eating it by the spoonful with reckless abandon.

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