I Never Went Back to Store-Bought After Tasting This.
Ever since making ricotta for the first time, I’ve never bought it again. While I fully understand this is not authentic ricotta, which is made from whey, it’s so much better than any you can buy at your local grocery store, I don’t quibble over its authenticity. Both the texture and flavor are worlds apart from any that come in those plastic tubs. Local Italian markets sometimes sell excellent ricotta, but barring easy access to one of those stores, I make my own.
In the beginning, I toyed with different methods of achieving those luscious creamy curds. Acid is necessary and I like using buttermilk much more than lemon juice. I think the flavor and texture are much better. And in order to get the truly rich, almost buttery flavor I wanted, cream is also essential. I came upon a recipe at Food52 from Jennifer Perillo and with only a minor tweak of the ingredients, it is essentially how I’ve been making it for the last decade.
But I have changed the technique in order to make it even easier than the way in which it was originally written. I make ricotta several times a year. I always double the amounts of ingredients because I don’t see the point in making such a small batch. And while I will include a link to the original recipe, I will also write out my own recipe and explain my technique.
The only way you can end up with a less than desirable result is if you stir it too much. The curds won’t develop properly and it will fail. But no worries. I’ll include specific directions as to when to stop stirring and success is assured. Here’s a photo of what it will look like when it’s time to take it off the heat and let it sit for awhile before straining.
I also eliminated the step of straining the ricotta through cheesecloth. On a whim, I once tried straining it through a fine meshed strainer and was thrilled it worked perfectly. No curds were lost and there was no need for bringing out the cheesecloth. So, as easy as it was to begin with, it got even easier.
What do I do with all this ricotta? Well, besides eating it by the spoonful, which I dare you to resist, I find that I like it it best when it’s not cooked any further in a recipe. Other than adding it to a cake batter, I always opt to serve it as is. Whether it’s spread on toast with a drizzle of honey or jam, used as a base on crostini with tomatoes, or simply served as a big dollop added to a plate of meatballs or a bowl of pasta, I never have any of it go unused. I always end up scraping the bowl in order to get that last bit. This time I used some of it in a buckwheat crepe/galette which I will post later on in the week.
One other thing I find not to be true is the recommendation that it must be eaten within three days. Nope to that. It easily lasts for a week. I’ve never had it go bad on me or had the quality suffer. It tastes perfect until the last bite.