My Ricotta Mistake

Two years ago I moved back to Florida with my husband and with no job lined up. I did the millennial boomerang and moved in with Mom at an age way too old to live with one’s parents and we all drove each other crazy. It was taking too long to find a job and I was bored so I did what I always do, I took to the kitchen. In between grueling LinkedIn sessions and reaching out to recruiters, I eased my stress by enjoying the oversized kitchen in the home my mom worked very hard to buy. I made ramen, I made cakes (not good ones because….baking). I made anything I could imagine to play with. On one fateful day I decided my new project would be ricotta.

I selected ricotta in an effort to recreate my favorite dish from my favorite restaurant in Minneapolis, 112 Eatery. At the time they were making a house-made ricotta with truffled honey. I made every excuse under the sun to drive the 3.5 hours to Minneapolis from Fargo just to be able to have it. I’m not kidding, we went at least once a month.

I set to scouring the internet for the creamiest ricotta recipe I could find. I searched high and low, and no one was talking about the creaminess of their recipe. That is, until I stumbled upon the Smitten Kitchen blog. She was waxing poetic about the creamy richness of a ricotta she found in NYC…a ricotta I would never have access to. Lucky for me she set about to teach the internet how to make this exclusive ricotta.

I studied her recipe and swiftly decided that I needed to double it. One, because I had been craving it for months and two, because my husband has a hefty appetite. There needed to be enough for me too! I assembled my mise en place and got to cooking. What I hadn’t realized, is that I botched the acid component and forgot to double it. There was in fact, 1.5x the amount of necessary acid not 2x the amount, but I wouldn’t learn that until much later.

I carefully followed the instructions and was rewarded with…not ricotta. It has now come to be called “my ricotta mistake” because I can’t figure out what I made. It’s a rich creamy spread with no visible curd. It’s about the consistency of greek yogurt but with the lovely sweetness of ricotta, or even mascarpone (but I don’t think its mascarpone, wrong consistency and wrong fat content). I DM’ed a cheesehead friend of mine in the New York food scene, and even he is stumped. I hope as this blog gains popularity, someone will tell me what I have made. Whatever it is, I (and everyone I serve it to) love it.

That day gave me a happy accident that I now repeat purposefully. I use it as substitution for ricotta in recipes. I put it in pastas, on pizza, and pictured here with fruit and honey. Oh, did I make the truffled honey ricotta dish? You bet I did! It will never be the same as at 112 Eatery, but it hits the spot regardless.

I encourage you to try your hand at “my ricotta mistake” so that you can experience the intensely rich creaminess. I’ll post the correct acid amount in parentheses in case you would prefer to make a true ricotta. I’ve since made both, and the true ricotta recipe is lovely, but boy am I glad I made this mistake all those years ago.

Ingredients

  • 6 c whole Milk
  • 2 c Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 4.5 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (6 Tbsp if you want to make real ricotta)

Directions

  1. Pour milk, cream and salt into a medium nonreactive sauce pan and heat to 190 degrees F on medium low. A candy thermometer is recommended, but I never have the right equipment so I use a probe thermometer and stir the mixture around, never touching the probe to bottom of the pan, and watching the temperature rise like a fanatic
  2. Once the mixture reaches 190 degrees F, remove it from the heat.
  3. Add the lemon juice, stir once or twice and walk away for 5-7 minutes
  4. Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth lined strainer (preferably not a colander but a large mesh strainer) placed over a mixing bowl. I use like 5 or 6 layers of cheese cloth. There isn’t a visible curd and if it isn’t heavily lined you’ll lose some goodness. I’ve also found that clothespins help to clamp down the cheesecloth and keep it from slipping.
  5. Allow the whey to separate from the “curd” for 2 hours. If you’re making traditional ricotta you could allow it to strain for 1 hour, but I like the two hour separation best.
  6. Tumble the “ricotta mistake” into a vessel for the refrigerator and chill…if you can’t help yourself from eating it right then and there I won’t tell anyone. It will thicken slightly once chilled
  7. Eat it on everything. Its great on toast, on pizza, with berries, by itself on a spoon, whatever you can dream up.

I find “my ricotta mistake” lasts 4 or 5 days in the fridge, sometimes longer. I have an iron gut so I keep it around until the day that it tastes off. I don’t expect you to exhibit the same bravery (read:stupidity), so keep it around for the recommended amount of time.

Do as I say not as I do. A colander is not the recommended straining vessel for this cheese. My large mesh strainer was in the dishwasher and I was careless.
 

2 Comments

  1. Judy Truex Reed

    Can hardly wait to try your mistake. I have been wanting to make ricotta for sometime. I’m thankful a friend sent me your blog. I will share with others. good luck and thanks so much.

    Judy Truex Reed
    Judytruexreed@gmail.com

     

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