Thursday, December 11, 2008
Ricotta salata: Cheese extra ordinaire!
Before I found real love, I would use the word "love" somewhat excessively. Skiing? I love it! Garcia Marquez? I love him. Artichokes? I love them!
Not anymore. I am careful not to use this word out of context. However this delicacy Ricotta Salata, I discovered recently, makes me very close to using the L word. You don't know what to make of it: Is it cheese, or is it not? If it looks like feta, why doesn't it taste like feta? Is it hard, is it soft? Is it fresh, is it old? Then you cannot stop thinking of it. It is not love, but I will have to admit to my love and all the readers that I have an affair with Ricotta salata.
What is it then? For those food enthusiasts like me, the production process is very important. I had written about the properties of milk and related products in my previous post. Shortly, milk has fat solube and water soluble proteins. Normal yogurts and cheeses contain mostly the fat solubles which make up %70 of the protein mass. Whey is what is left of the cheese making and it is usually fed to the animals. Clever Italians and Turks cooked this protein solution and added acid to get the water soluble proteins out of the whey to produce Ricotta and Lor. Italians being the culinary hedonists they are, salted and pressed and matured ricotta to get Ricotta salata, which has the additional flavors from bacterias digesting remaining sugars and long proteins in the original ricotta.
Whether or not you like to know how your cheese is prepared, do try ricotta salata if you find the chance!