HOMEMADE FRESH RICOTTA CHEESE
I first made this ricotta a few years ago when I was making a homemade lasagna for a bunch of my friends for dinner. It would be a dinner to go down in the books. As a matter of fact, they're still talking about that lasagna! That night I had decided to let my dear friend, Timothy Kennedy choose what was going to be on the menu. There were a few other friends there that night for dinner, but it was Timothy's choice. I had been working at an Italian restaurant on the very west side of Milwaukee at the time, and this recipe came to me just in time for that very special dinner some few years back. I had purchased a huge turkey roasting pan to construct the lasagna. I will never forget the enormity of that particular lasagna. It weighed so much, when my friend Kevin heaved it out of the oven it nearly threw his back out! The pounds of cheese, the pounds of pasta, the pounds of homemade sausage (yeah, I make that from scratch, too!)... Remember my motto: ANYTHING WORTH DOING IS WORTH OVER DOING! It was just one of those things for me, making the ricotta from scratch, that made it even more special. Along with the Caesar salad and the homemade bread it was simply an evening to remember.
2 quarts of organic milk
1 cup of organic heavy cream
3 Tablespoons of white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
In a medium pot, warm the milk and cream over moderately high heat until the surface becomes foamy and steamy and an instant thermometer inserted into the milk reads 185 degrees. Do not let the milk boil. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the vinegar and gently stir for 30 seconds; the mixture will almost curdle immediately. Add the salt and continue to gently stir for another 30 seconds. Cover the pot with a clean towel and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
Line a large colander with several layers of cheesecloth, allowing several inches of overhang. Set the colander in a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the curds to the colander. Carefully gather the corners of the cheesecloth and close with a rubberband. Let the ricotta stand for 30 minutes, gently pressing and squeezing the cheesecloth occasionally to drain off the whey. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl and use at once, or cover and refrigerate.
Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Makes aproximately 3 1/2 cups. I used all 3 1/2 cups of the ricotta in my lasagna that night. Use this homemade ricotta as you would any other store bought ricotta.