Monday, July 23, 2012

Meatless Monday: Burrata – The Most Glorious Leftover

If I’d known what was inside, I would have missed out on the creamy deliciousness that is burrata.

On a recent visit to Cape Cod, we visited the Chatham Farmers Market, where the friendly cheesemongers from Fromage à Trois were offering handmade mozzarella and ravioli and a cheese called “Goat Cheese Burrata,” nicely wrapped in checkerboard tissue paper and sold with the promise “not like any goat cheese you’ve ever had.”

I’m a goat cheese lover, and I’m always up for trying a new local product. The friendly wide-eyed kid manning the table had hooked me. I bought a little package thinking it would be the perfect accompaniment for the Truro Vineyards Cabernet Franc we’d already picked up. [Yes, you can buy wine at Cape Cod farmers markets!] 

Still-life with burrata on a plate and its empty wrapper.

Back at the cabin we opened up the package to discover what looked like mozzarella, but instead of being a ball, it was more like a sack, gathered and crumpled at the top. We sliced it open and found that while the outside was firm like mozzarella, the inside was creamy and lightly flavored with herbs. It was so deliciously rich that we knew not to polish it off in one sitting. We ate over the coarse of three evenings on lightly toasted rounds of cheese bread and some Gala apple slices.

Once vacation was over and I was back home, I googled burrata to learn it means “buttered” in Italian and was originally devised as a way for using up the curds leftover in mozzarella making. The cheese-maker would make a small pouch (instead of a ball) of mozzarella. Then he would gather together the leftover curds, mix them with cream, fill the pouch, and tie off the top.

In reading the label I’d saved from my burrata, I saw that mascarpone was listed instead of cream. Good, I thought, cheese, not cream. But, on googling mascarpone, I discovered its 47% butterfat vs. 36% for heavy cream

I also discovered that, despite its fat, burrata, like bacon, is all the rage. Check out this recent recipe from the New York Times for zucchini blossoms stuffed with burrata. 

Nora Singley’s Cheesemonger blog is a treasure trove of burrata facts and includes some great photos. And, if you are feeling adventurous, visit the Sunday Suppers site for instructions on making your own.

Go ahead, indulge. But not too often and not too much. Perhaps with friends. Burrata Beware.

Happy Monday. Thanks for reading. 

I often blog on food, food issues, or topics related to growing things on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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