With the holidays dominating most of our time for the next couple of months, we've decided to keep the cheesin' simple and go with another fresh cheese this month...and we're heading to....
...and who better to take us there than my kitchen idol, Mr. Rick Bayless himself? Yup, his newest book Fiesta at Rick's has a fabulous recipe for Queso Fresco...one of my favorites and staple in our house at all times. I must admit, though...I haven't made my own in quite some time. Better get back to it...there's nothing like it!
*Bayless notes that he likes to use the buttermilk in this recipe as a starter...to let the milk culture for a few hours before moving on to the cheesing process. The flavor reminds more of the artisanal cheeses that he knows and loves. Good enough for me! BUT, if you don't have the time...or the buttermilk...then you may skip this step. And I imagine sacrifice some depth.
from Fiesta at Rick's by Rick Bayless
makes ~1 lb.
1 gallon whole or 2% milk (remember, the richer the milk/flavor, the better the cheese)
2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. Citric Acid (sometimes called sour salt, sometimes found in kosher section of grocery stores)
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.
...and can I just add...THEN GO USE IT IN A FABULOUS MEXICAN RECIPE! Or sprinkle it on tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, gorditas...you name it! I cannot get enough Queso Fresco!
As always, if there's a different Queso Fresco recipe you'd like to use, then please do so. Link up your posts (or any past forges) to this months linky, which you can find through the sidebar, in the top rh corner!
Cheese on, Forgers!