Real Ricotta

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Cheese
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If you have had real ricotta, you know how far and away it is from the product in the plastic tubs at most grocery stores.

Although the grocery items are technically ricotta, they do not have the full, rich, creamy taste and texture that the hand-dipped version has. If you live in an area like NYC or New Jersey it is likely that you can easily find hand-dipped ricotta in your neighborhood Italian speciality store – mounded like an ice cream cone in special little baskets or metal cups. This ricotta was made from the leftover curds floating in a batch of whey, which was used to make fior di latte, or mozzarella. Once the curds have been cut and removed, the leftover whey is heated again (re-cooked, “ricotta”) and the curds that come to the surface are scooped out and placed into small vessels to let them drain. The curds meld into a beautiful, creamy, almost sweet cheese. This is real ricotta, and it is worth seeking out. In the Northeast, where I live, Calabro produces one for super markets. It comes in a tin cup wrapped in plastic – found in the specialty cheese section.

Real ricotta begs to be eaten as-is and not heated. I often dollop it over just-baked pizzas straight from the oven, drizzled with oil and dusted with cracked black pepper. Mix it with salt, oil and chopped basil, then spread on crostini. Mix it with sugar and pipe into cannoli. It is a special treat that has many applications and will highlight even the most simple of dishes.

4 Comments

  1. Paulie Gee says

    I like your think in’ John. We use Calabro as well, although we use the stuff in the plastic container. We did a blind taste test and found the slight difference didn’t warrant the additional expense. One of the thing I never do is put ricotta in a blazing pizza oven. It simply destroys it. We load it into pastry bags and dollop it on post oven. I like to get it onto the pies quickly after they are pulled from the oven. That allows the cheese to warm and soften just a bit.

    Ciao,

    PG

  2. JDV says

    Paulie – I fully agree on the plastic tub Calabro. It is hard to find in grocery stores, but almost as good as the hand dipped version. In fact most products from Calabro are excellent: I use their fior di latte in whey for all my Neapolitan pizza making.

  3. John Knab says

    John,

    I just love your photography and aesthetic sense. And your thoughtfulness regarding the foods that you are preparing is done in a very “down-to-earth” style that is not in any way snobbish or jugemental. I hope that yo are able to reach out to as many people as you would like!

    John K (a.k.a. Serpentelli)

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