Saturday, 15 January 2011

Further Adventures in Cheese - Queso Fresco!

Hola! Ready to forge Mexican style?

This simple one-day cheese is fresh and tangy and mild and perfect for crumbling over your favourite Mexican dishes. All you need is a gallon of whole milk, 2 cups of buttermilk and some citric acid (or, if you can't find it, lime juice).

Best eaten in the first 48 hours, queso fresco would also be lovely cubed and tossed in a salad.

¡Buen apetito!

Queso Fresco
from Fiesta at Rick's by Rick Bayless
makes ~1 lb.

1 gallon whole milk (the richer the milk, the better the cheese)
2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. Citric Acid (sometimes called sour salt, sometimes found in kosher section of grocery stores) OR 1 c. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. salt (pure, fine-ground sea salt works best)

1. Culture the milk.  Pour milk into a very large pot over med-low heat.  Stir in buttermilk.  Bring milks to 75° F, turn off heat, cover pot and let sit for 3 to 4 hours.

2. Set the curd.  If using citric acid, stir it into ¼ c. cold water, continuing to stir until dissolved.  With lid off pot, turn heat to medium and stir dissolved citric acid or lime juice into milk mixture.  You will immediately see small curds start to form.  Every couple of minutes, stir slowly, gently, & thoroughly over entire bottom of pot until milk reaches 195°F, ~20 minutes.  At this point the curds will be very obvious, floating in the milky-transparent whey.  Remove from heat, let stand five minutes without stirring so all the curd can rise to the top.

3.  Drain the curd from the whey.  Wet a large piece of cheesecloth and line a large colander with it.  Set colander in sink (or over bowl if saving the whey).  Carefully ladle all of the curd into the colander. Gather the cheesecloth around the curd and gently squeeze to expel a bit more whey.  Unwrap curd onto a plate, break it up, and sprinkle w/ the salt...working it in with a spoon or your fingers.

4.  Gather the cheese curds into a 1" thick disk, transfer to a plate, cover, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.