Dawn Viola is a research and development chef and food writer. She serves on the board of directors for Slow Food Orlando, and works with local and national companies as a healthy recipe consultant with a focus on organic, local and sus...
Ricotta, queso fresco and goat cheese can all be created at home on the stovetop. Using acidification (adding lemon juice or vinegar), rather than the traditional rennet or cultures used with other cheeses to separate the curds and whey, you'll produce a fine-curd cheese in seconds that will beat the store bought in a taste test any day of the week.
Cow, sheep or goat's milk can be used to produce different flavor profiles. Skim milk can also be used in these ricotta recipes, but whole milk will always produce the largest yield and best flavor.
Fresh ricotta cheese recipe
Yields 1 cup
1 quart whole milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until it reaches 180 degrees F. Remove pan from heat; add lemon juice and vinegar, stirring until curds form and separate from the liquid (whey).
Line a fine mesh strainer with a layer of cheese cloth. Place strainer over a large bowl. Pour curds and whey into the strainer; set aside 30 minutes to drain. Transfer cheese to a medium bowl; stir in salt. Cover and refrigerate up to seven days.
Pan-fried ricotta recipe
1/4 cup chopped pancetta
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 cup fresh ricotta
Zest of one lemon
1 small egg, room temperature
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil for shallow pan frying
Render pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Add garlic and stir. Remove garlic and pancetta from pan and place in a small bowl to slightly cool, leaving the pancetta drippings in the pan.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, pancetta and garlic, lemon zest and small egg. Form into 1-inch balls and gently press into a 1/2-inch thick patty. Repeat until all mixture is used. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Place the breadcrumbs on a plate. Combine the three eggs with the milk in a small bowl.
Add olive oil to the pan and heat on medium. Remove cheese from the refrigerator and dip in the egg mixture, and then into the breadcrumbs and repeat with all pieces of cheese.
Pan fry on medium heat until golden brown. Flip and fry the second side until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and sprinkle with salt.