Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Fresh Ricotta

Adapted from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

The best ricotta I ever had was from Salvatore Brooklyn. I once went to a Williams-Sonoma store in NYC to see a demonstration by Betsy Devine of how she makes it at Salvatore, and that was when I decided I would be able to make my own. You can see the thick texture, which is what I was - and am - aiming for.

The recipe I use is adapted from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's recipe in his seminal work, The Food Lab, but there are other good recipes for you to check out - FOOD52 and Smitten Kitchen, who also likes Salvatore. If you don't have or use a microwave, Jennifer Perillo's recipe on FOOD52 is the way to go. It is the first recipe I tried so I know it works!

Salvatore Ricotta

I often use 3 cups whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream unless I want to make it extremely rich in which case I use 2 cups whole milk and 2 cups heavy cream. I imagine I could use half-and-half, but I have never done that.

I put my 4 cups of dairy in a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup. I add 1/2 teaspoon salt, either kosher or fine sea salt, and 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar. Kenji says you can add the same amount of lemon juice; however, since the white vinegar is consistent at 5 per cent acid, I find it unfailingly reliable.

I heat the milk and cream mixture in the microwave until the temperature reaches 165°F on an instant-read themometer. In my microwave, which is small, this takes about 8 minutes. 

At this point, I remove the cup from the microwave and stir it gently for about 5 seconds. It is already separating into curds and whey.

I transfer to a fine sieve that I have lined with a white mesh vegetable bag. It can certainly be lined with cheesecloth.

I cover the top with plastic wrap and let it reach the desired consistency. The more it drains, the "dryer" it will be. 

My Ricotta

You can see the texture. It's almost like ice cream. Since I am usually using this to make manicotti, it gets thinner with the addition of eggs so this is a perfect texture for me to start with.

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