One of the Barefoot Contessa's catchphrases is "How easy is that?" If you're a fan of her show, you know that she says it several times during an episode. However, sometimes I can't help but wonder: is it really that easy? Well, when it comes to her homemade ricotta cheese, yes it is!
Over the weekend I made a batch of the thick, creamy, rich cheese and was shocked by the recipe's simplicity. All you have to do is bring milk, cream, and salt to a boil, add some vinegar, and strain the mixture. It was so uncomplicated that in the future I'm going to make ricotta instead of buying it. Serve on crostini for an effortless appetizer or use in a recipe like pizza or lasagna. Learn the method now.
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth. If you don't have cheesecloth, use the thinnest dish towel you own.
Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side, but some prefer it moister.)
Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.