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Homemade ricotta with red wine-poached cherries

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 4
Homemade ricotta with red wine-poached cherries
(Los Angeles Times)

Homemade ricotta

1

Rinse a large saucepan with cold water (for easier cleanup). Pour the milk and cream into the saucepan. Add the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; a skin may form on the surface. Continue to cook until you see bubbles all over the surface.

2

While the milk is coming to a simmer, line a strainer with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth and set it in a bowl that is deep enough so the strainer is suspended above the bottom of the bowl.

3

When the milk has come to a simmer (it will take about 9 to 11 minutes), turn off the heat and pour in the vinegar. Leave it alone for about 1 minute, then stir slowly and gently. The milk will start separating into curds and whey (the liquid); you are looking for the whey to become clearish, which will take about 1 minute of gentle stirring.

4

Pour into the strainer. Lift the strainer out of the bowl and pour out the whey, then set the strainer back in the bowl and let the cheese drain for 15 minutes.

5

The ricotta is ready to serve now; it will be soft and moist. Gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and lift. Set the cheese in your palm and unfold the cloth. Invert a bowl or plate over the cheese in your hand, flip it over, and lift off the cheesecloth. You can also refrigerate it, covered, for later; it will be denser, more like cottage cheese.

Red wine-poached cherries and assembly

1

In a small saucepan, gently simmer the red wine and 2 tablespoons sugar until the wine loses its raw alcohol smell, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool to below 140 degrees.

2

Place the cherries in a 1-quart sealable plastic bag and pour the cooled wine over them. Press out all of the air and seal the bag tightly. Place this bag inside another, press out the air and seal tightly again.

3

Bring a large pot of water to 140 degrees. Place the double-bagged cherries into the water and poach at between 140 and 150 degrees for 20 minutes. The first 5 or 10 minutes you’ll need to pay attention to the temperature, but after that it will maintain without much fussing. If the water gets too hot, add a little tap water to bring the temperature down. If the bag insists on floating (which it almost always will, thanks to the air trapped in it), place a slightly smaller pot on top of it to press it down. Turn the bag once or twice to ensure even cooking.

4

After 20 minutes, remove the bag from the pot. Place a strainer over a small saucepan and empty the cherries into it, collecting the poaching liquid underneath. Set the cherries aside in a bowl and simmer the poaching liquid until it has reduced to a syrup. Pour the syrup over the cherries and toss to coat well. Set aside until ready to assemble.

5

When ready to serve, sweeten the homemade ricotta with 1 teaspoon of sugar and mound in the center of a platter. Dust lightly with cinnamon. Scatter the glazed cherries and their juice around the outside, and serve.

This recipe for homemade ricotta comes from Roy Finamore’s new book, “Tasty.” The technique for the cherries comes from Josiah Citrin of Melisse restaurant.

Russ Parsons is a former food writer and columnist at the Los Angeles Times.
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