This post is dedicated to cheese lovers and Italophiles everywhere. Then again, doesn’t that include just about everyone?
My palate was rocked this week by an out of this world cheese tasting experience. Some of you may have already had the gustatory pleasure of eating silky, buttery Burrata mozzarella cheese. But I hadn’t. And if you haven’t, run, don’t walk to your nearest fromagerie – or, more appropriately “formaggeria” since we’re talking about an Italian cheese here- to pick up a ball of this cream filled mozzarella. This is not your mother’s mozzarella. It is puffy and cloudlike, moist and tender on your tongue, the perfect blend of texture and taste.
Burrata has been fabricated since the early part of the 20th century in Puglia, located the southern part of Italy but it has only just recently started making its way out of the boot. And “grazie” for that!
The process of fashioning it is slightly different than for making “regular” mozzarella. The artisan cheesemaker first warms (cow’s) milk to form curds which are then dipped into lightly salted water and then kneaded (like bread!) to form the mozzarella strings. To create Burrata, the strings are then shaped to create a pouch which is filled with more mozzarella curds, topped with cream and sealed. You can see in the picture below where the delicate ball of cheese has been pinched like a dumpling to incorporate the leftover curds and cream into the more solid exterior mozzarella shell.
So if you have plans to entertain this weekend or are tasked with bringing a salad or a side to a neighborhood potluck, the dish below would be perfect. It is a show-stopping, mouth-watering, eye-pleaser of a platter, just enough out of the ordinary tomato and mozz dish that it will have people talking (or, because it is so delicious, they will cease to talk so they can savor it’s buttery flavor). By the way, “burrata” means “buttered” in Italian.
It get’s better, too, for us lucky Vermonters. Maplebrook Farm in Bennington is producing this lovely delicacy. Moo… and buon appetito.
Burrata Mozzarella Salad with Tomatoes and Fresh Thyme
We enjoyed this last night for dinner while sitting out on our screen porch, listening to the spring sounds of peep frogs. It tasted – and they sounded – lovely.Try adding delicate leaves of fresh thyme instead of basil to this refreshing salad. The taste is a little unexpected and takes the dish to a different place than people are used to (as does the Burrata mozzarella!). This is a 1-2-3 recipe: 1) buy the ingredients 2) slice ‘em up and 3) put them them on the platter and you’re done. Make sure to cut the cheese with a carving knife, not a serrated one, as Burrata is very delicate and serrated edges can tear at and rip the skin.
3 ruby red, ripe tomatoes
2 balls of Burrata mozzarella
several sprigs fresh thyme
a few “delicate glugs” – drizzles- of good quality olive oil
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
a loaf of crusty bread
Slice the tomatoes and Burrata mozzarella into generous rounds and place them decoratively on a platter. Drizzle -delicately now – olive oil over the slices of tomato and cheese, finishing your creation by sprinkling leaves of fresh thyme, salt and fresh ground pepper over the top. Serves six.