By Chef Sabrina Sexton

One of my favorite things to teach students is to make mozzarella from scratch. This milky, soft, stretched-curd cheese from Campania is best when super fresh, ideally eaten the same day its made.

Fortunately, it’s easier to make than most people think. You start by making the curd, which is the basis of the cheese, then warm and stretch it to develop mozzarella’s unique texture. Most restaurants buy prepared curd and simply do the stretching themselves, but if you don’t need a large amount, making the curd is easy, too.

 

cheese

Mozzarella Curd

*I get most of my cheese-making supplies from either http://www.thecheesemaker.com or http://www.leeners.com

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk (preferably not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 2 teaspoons citric acid dissolved in ¼ cup non-chlorinated water
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in ¼ cup non-chlorinated water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Place the milk in a large saucepan or small stock pot. Heat the milk over low heat, stirring occasionally. When the temperature reaches 55º F, add the citric acid and mix thoroughly. Continue to heat the milk until the temperature reaches 87º to 89º F. Remove from the heat.
  2. Gently stir in the diluted rennet with an up-and-down motion. Allow the milk to stand until the curds form, 15 to 20 minutes. Cut the curds.
  3. Once the curds form, reheat the milk slowly to 108º F. Turn the heat off and let the curds stand for 20 minutes while the whey is dispelled. The whey should be clear and the curd should be slice-able.
  4. Scoop out the curds and gently press to release the excess whey.

Mozzarella Cheese

Yield: Makes about 1½ pounds

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon (16 cups) water
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 pounds (about 4 cups) mozzarella curd , cut into small pieces*

Instructions

  1. Prepare the water: Place the water and salt in a large saucepan. Heat the water until bubbles begin to appear on the surface, or an instant read thermometer registers 180º F. Turn off the heat.
  2. Heat the cheese curd: While the water is heating, place the cubes of cheese in a large bowl. When the water is ready, carefully pour the hot water over the cheese. Let the cheese cubes sit in the water for about 1 minute without stirring them. After 1 minute, gently stir them with a wooden spoon and look at the curd. If the cheese is heated through the curd will look smooth (like melted mozzarella) and is ready to be stretched. If the cheese curd is not completely heated through it will look grainy and still have some of the cubes. If so, it needs to sit in the hot water for another few minutes until soft.
  3. Stretch the curd: Working quickly, before the cheese cools down too much, stretch the curd with the wooden spoon until the cheese is smooth and elastic. Lift and stretch the curd to develop a stringy texture. Be careful not to overwork the curd: this will make you cheese heavy and too chewy. As the cheese cools it will begin to stiffen and become harder to stretch. The cheese is ready to be shaped before it cools completely.
  4. Shape the cheese: Divide the cheese into two or three pieces and wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap, twisting the ends of the plastic wrap to help the cheese form a round shape. Place the cheese in an ice bath, if desired, to help hold its shape.
  5. Serve the cheese immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week

Sabrina is a lead instructor in the Culinary Arts Program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.
To learn more about cheesemaking, check out her recreational class on April 9th at ICE.

Ever wonder what’s cooking at ICE? Five Course Friday gives you a snapshot of what we are whipping up weekly. Whether you pop in to a recreational class, catch a professional demo or watch the transformation from student to chef, there is something scrumptious happening daily.


Soufflés d’Alencon en Timbales (cheese souffles in mushroom sauce)


Rabbit braised with prosciutto red onions and white wine, served with sautéed broccoli rabe 


Cotes de Porc Normande from French cooking course in culinary arts program


Focused on frosting this week in pastry and baking classes


Chocolate bar with color splash from pastry and baking class

Have a delicious weekend!

Yesterday, ICE students were treated to a talk and tasting with Angela Miller of Consider Bardwell Farm. Miller wrote Hay Fever: How Chasing a Dream on a Vermont Farm Changed My Life about her journey from literary agent to farmstead cheese maker. The talk was lead by ICE Instructor Alexandra Leaf who asked Miller about her experience on the farm and guided the students through five different Consider Bardwell cheeses.

Miller was a successful literary agent, counting Mark Bittman, Amy Scherber, Sarabeth Levine and Max McCalman among the authors she worked with. Shortly after her and her husband bought a 300-acre farm in Vermont, they began keeping goats. Now, their award-winning cheeses can be found at farmers’ markets, specialty cheese shops and some of the city’s finest restaurants, including Jean Georges and Daniel. In November, three Consider Bardwell cheese won awards at the prestigious World Cheese Awards. More…

X-treme Cheese

When ICE President Rick Smilow and Anne E. McBride wrote Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food they discovered a plethora of food jobs they had never heard of before. Since the book’s release, they have been discovering even more interesting career paths in the food world. DICED shares some of them with you in a reoccurring feature, “Unique Culinary Careers.”

There are certain types of foods that can be overwhelming. The world of cheese is both vast and complex. Understanding the flavor of cheese involved know what type of milk was used, how the animals were raised, how the cheese was made, how the cheese was stored, how the cheese is served and so on. Sometimes, you need to call in an expert to help navigate the landscape of available cheeses. Max Shrem is currently working on Ph.D. in French literature, focusing on food in literature in the 18th century, but he also moonlights as a cheese expert, writing for cheese-focused magazine, Culture and blogging for Slashfood. He also works as a cheese monger in Paris for a few weeks each year. We asked Max about how he got into dairy and developed his knowledge for fine cheese.

How would you describe your position?
In my academic life I’m looking at literary depictions of milk, dairy and cheese. A lot of it is overlapping with my professional life writing about cheese for Culture. For Slashfood, I’m doing more “how to” posts. For example, how to pick a cheese, how to store cheese, and what cheese is best of Thanksgiving — my focus is informational, service-oriented posts. I’m not really a cheese monger anymore, but I’ m working seasonally in a cheese shop in Paris. It keeps me physically involved with the cheese. More…

The butchering team hard at work selling different cuts of meat.

The food world is buzzing with talk about the opening of Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Bastianich’s new venture, Eataly. A spinoff of Turin’s famed Eataly, the 50,000 sq. ft. marketplace is stocked with cheeses, salamis, breads, wines, pizzas, produce and much, much more. The giant specialty food store is directly across 23rd St. from ICE. President Rick Smilow ventured out to the grand opening celebrtion and snapped a few snapshots. Take a look.

A view of hanging meats and fresh mozzarella inside Eataly.

A large meat slicer for charcuterie.

Mario Batali being interviewed by a member of the press.

More…