I’d never heard of burrata until about a month ago, when I read about it on David Leite’s Culinaria. And then I started finding recipes for it everywhere, or maybe I just began noticing, I’m not sure.
Burrata is mozzarella’s more glamorous sister – a little more hard to get and little more work. Originally made with buffalo milk, burrata is formed by a shell of mozzarella that encloses a gooey mess of cream and leftover mozzarella strands. Looking a bit like a money purse, burrata needs to be eaten fresh, and was traditionally wrapped in asphodel leaves, with the idea being that the cheese is fresh for as long as the leave stay green. It’s richer than mozzarella, and you can eat it on its own, with figs, in pasta or anyway you like really. We just ate it fresh with wine, and a dash of olive oil, salt, pepper. We also tried it with some grapes because I couldn’t find any figs in Brixton market. My attempt wasn’t quite creamy or gooey enough in the centre – instead it seemed to solidify a bit too much. I think this could be fixed by mixing the cream and mozzarella strands just before putting it into the shell and also getting it into the iced water faster…I’ll try this next time.
- 3.5 litres pasteurised (not homogenised) milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid, dissolved in 1/3 cup cool unchlorinated water
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid Rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup cool unchlorinated water
- 1/4 cup sea salt
- 100ml double cream
Sterilise a 5 litre stainless steel pot (with lid) by bringing about 2 inches of water to a rolling boil. Leave it boiling with the lid on for at least 5 minutes. I also sterilised my slotted spoon, therm0meter and strainer at the same time by putting them inside the pot. Once sterilised, put all the milk in the pot, make sure the temperature is 12C (55F) (Its getting pretty cold in our unit now, so I had to heat it up from room temperature a little). Add the water with citric acid and mix well.
Heat the milk to 32C (90F), stirring constantly. Remove from heat and slowly add in diluted rennet mixing up and down for around 30 seconds. Cover and leave for 8 minutes (You can check it at 5 minutes, and if it seems like a solid custard, it is ready to go).
After 8 minutes, slice a knife through all the way to the bottom. The curds and whey should clearly separate. Put the pot back on the stove and heat it up to 43C (110F), carefully stirring the curds (my curd broke up onto lots of small pieces)
Take off the heat and keep stirring slowly for 3 minutes, then using a slotted spoon, scoop out the curds into a bowl, draining as much whey off as possible. Keep the whey in the pot.
Add 1/4 cup salt to the whey, put the pot back onto the heat and bring it up to at least 79C (175F)
At this point, you need to make the burrata filling . Like mozzarella, put on rubber gloves now and separate about 1/4 of the curds. From this separated curds make one or two ball by pushing it firmly together. Put one of the balls into a metal strainer and dip it into the hot whey, making sure the ball is fully covered. After 10-12 seconds, pull the colander out and knead the ball with your hands (it might fall apart a little but push it back together and re-dunk it). The cheese should be really hot when you pull it out. Do this two or three times, then take the ball, shred it into long and small pieces into a bowl and mix in cream.
Now make the mozzarella shells. To start with, fill a bowl with ice and water and put aside (this is for the finished burrata).Also, find a ramekin or small bowl and place soe cheese cloth in it. This will help for placing the outer shell in whilst you fill it up.
Take a ball of curds from the remaining amount, dip into the hot whey for 10-15 seconds, remove and knead. Repeat this 4-5 times until the cheese is very pliable and can be stretched into thin circle of flat cheese (like a pizza base) without forming wholes. You might want to try it and if it doesn’t stretch yet, re-dip it, knead it again and re stretch. Once you have the flat disk, place it over the cheese-cloth lined ramekin and push the centre down with the edges hanging our the side, this should let you quickly scoop some of the filling into the middle (being careful not to spill cream on the overhanging edges as it effects the seal). Quickly push all the overhanging parts together to seal the ‘bag’ and place in ice water. I found this bit really tricky and kept no getting the seal right. I tried sealing one with some string, which seemed a bit like cheating but it held the mixture in better. If you have any good ideas on how to make it work, let me know. Traditionally it is supposed to be sealed with a knot, but I couldn’t get that to work at all!