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Fresh Ricotta

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

My first endeavor in making ricotta.  Now, Im making the lasagna.  Do I still use egg with the ricotta?  My instincts tell me yes but with such a fresh ingredient it may not need the egg ?     I will most definitely add the cheese ( is use romano ) and parsley but egg ?

post #2 of 26

Here is a great article from our one of our community members on how to make fresh ricotta with photos.

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/cooking_articles/Cooking_Techniques/260-how_to_make_fresh_ricotta.html

Thanks,

Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
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post #3 of 26

OK. I've been making fresh ricotta for a long time. That was a great article. Yes, it is that easy. 

 

Now here's my question:

Where/how can I get a "ChefTalk" chef's coat? PLEEEEAAAASE!!!

 

 

 

post #4 of 26

In my opinion, you do not need an egg in your ricotta cheese in lasagna or ravioli if you're using fresh or non-fresh.  That said... I almost think it's wasted in a lasagna or ravioli. Once it's been mixed with another cheese, seasoned and cooked, I can barely tell the difference anymore.

 

if you're buying it from a deli that makes it home made or making it yourself, I strongly encourage this.

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

Beautiful article indeed.  I only wish I had used to buttermilk that is sitting in my fridge !   Oh well, first time - trial and error.   I followed a recipe that used ONLY whole milk, salt and white vinegar.  The flavor was bland , to say the least.   It wasn't as "creamy" as I hoped but I re-introduced some of the whey to smooth it out.    

 

I did use an egg for the lasagna , plenty of parsley and romano,  Still didn't have the ooomph I was looking for.  This next time Im following the recipe from the artice and turn EVERYBODY on with it.  :-)   

 

Thanks 

post #6 of 26

The missing ingredient in 99% of people cheese mixtures is either a red chili of some kind, or more traditionally, nutmeg.

 

I'm guessing that if you live in the US you've made this cheese from pasteurized milk too... sadly... that makes a blander cheese unless you can get your hands on raw milk.

post #7 of 26

Adding the egg.. Optional yes,   better yes  Asside from making the mixture and the dish richer the egg also stops the cheese from weeping when cooking ,and will help hold the dish together by it's coagulation of protein. Egg will also aid to freezing if you do freeze, it as when thawing cheese throws even more water egg will help lessen this.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #8 of 26

Yes, definitely use eggs still.  They are wonderfully flavorful and they help to bind your filling together, keeping it form ozing everywhere...  I love making fresh ricotta.   It's truly a wondeful cheese...  

post #9 of 26

Glad you liked the article. We make fresh ricotta every week and there is no denying the flavor and texture. 

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

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post #10 of 26

Ricotta with egg for a lasagna? Sounds more like a moussaka topping. I'd leave it out.  Although, now having heard of it, I may give it a go :)

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #11 of 26

I can hardly believe I didn't recognize the production of ricotta in all this, but I very well know the fabrication of fresh cheese by curdling milk with an acid.

 

We have a tartelette recipe that has a European label of protected geographic recognition using some sort of flemish ricotta, called "matten". They are called "mattentaarten". They are made with "matten", curdled fresh unpasteurized milk with buttermilk. Seems the history of "matte" or "matton" goes back to the Middle Ages. These words are also found in dialects in Germany, France and my region Flanders.

 

Isn't this sort of cheese also known as "paneer" in India? Some sort of pressed Indian ricotta.

post #12 of 26

  Ricotta cheese,Throw in a egg, parm cheese, well drained spinach, put on a Calzone skin with a hand full of 80-10-10 cheese, makes a great Calzone filling.......

post #13 of 26

The ricotta recipe that's shown is the one I use and it's great!!!  As it's less watery, I use it for ravioli and cannoli filling.   Better than store bought for sure.

 

However, in making lasagna, true Italian lasagna, you don't use ricotta.   You use bechamel.   It makes the lasagna lighter and less filling.   In doing the bechamel, just keep in thick and where you'd normally place ricotta, use the bechamel.   When I make mine I layer it with sauce, fresh pasta strip, meat sauce, bechamel, mozzarella, pasta strip, and so on.   All the skeptics that I've had in my home now swear by it as the best they've ever had...   Give it a go.

 

However, the best lasagna I ever had was in Civita Castellana, Italy in a small trattoria and it was an artichoke lasagna with NO tomatoes... it was just 3 inches high but 8 layers thick and was the most outstanding dish I've ever tasted.   I can't replicate it here as we don't have the baby artichokes necessary to make it... Oh, what I would give for that right now!

post #14 of 26

LOL. We had a wonderful discussion about lasagna w/ bechamel on a different thread. I'm not sure exactly what part of Italy is considered "True Italian Cuisine". And I'm not sure what recipe is any more "True Italian" than any other. What I do know is that every lasagna that I ever had, from any Italian family that I ever knew, included ricotta. Is that the only way it should be made? Is ricotta any better/worse than bechamel? Who knows? It's all in the eyes/hands of the chef. I kinda think that anyone claiming "best way" or "only way" is working with a weak argument.      

post #15 of 26

What's the "true" way or the "real" way is irrelevant except as an interesting fact.  Surely some town somewhere in italy used ricotta and all the italian americans picked it up.  But i have NEVER had ricotta in lasagne in Italy anywhere (not that I've travelled that much, and not that I particularly like lasagne). 

 

Anyway, i was about to say, in contrast to FL italian, is that with ricotta it's lighter than bechamel!  Ricotta is not a full-fat cheese, and bechamel is made with butter and whole milk - so much heavier.  I find the bechamel lasagne too heavy myself, and can only take a little of it. 

 

Yes, baby artichokes - I can get them already cleaned at the various outdoor markets around here - not to gloat FL! 

 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #16 of 26

I would say the Lasagna made with Bechamel would be lighter because it puffs up a bit when it bakes. I always found the Ricotta mixture would blend with the sauce, mozzarella cheese to make it heavier. The last time I made Lasagna at home, I made it with a Bechamel sauce, It was a lighter feel to the dish, but I would never say this idea changed my mind on how to prepare this dish. I have been making Lasagna with Ricotta, eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper and granulated garlic for many years. The only way I would use Bechamel sauce in place of a Ricotta Cheese mixture, is if I was out of Ricotta cheese.............That's my story and I'm sticking to it.......I now had the Microphone to the Lady in Rome, or the Gentleman in Florida or Chicago..................ChefBillyB

post #17 of 26

Siduri... thanks for the affirmation on the bechamel!!!    Allora, che fa?!

 

As for the response to what's "true Italian" or "authentic Italian".... there isn't one.   The reason is that each region of Italy has it's own style of cooking: Bolognese, Roman, Tuscan, etc, etc.   When Italians go out for dinner and they live in Roma, they'll go out to an Italian ristorante where the chef specializes in Puglian cooking or Venetian for example.   The recipes are totally different, even for the same dish.   Which is better??   If you're in Italy and you're eating the food... does it matter????!!!!

 

Billy B... yes, for years, like you, I made it with Ricotta because that's what we did here in the US until I took the trips to Italia.. now, I make it with bechamel and I actually prefer it.   Italian food is authentic according to only one rule: How did Mama make it!!!

 

ciao..

Grazie Siduri... come stai??

post #18 of 26

Sto bene, grazie, FL, ma sono molto stanca!

 

I think the bechamel puffs up as you say, BillyB, if you put an egg in it - which is not done in lasagne here, generally, but perhaps our friend from Bologna might intervene here with his take on it.  Otherwise bechamel doesn't puff up, at least not in any of the lasagne i've ever eaten in restaurants. 

 

I guess also it depends on what you mean by heavy - the lasagne with many layers of bechamel, with all the butter and whole milk that entails is quite heavy in terms of being fatty - also in that it doesn't puff up, it is dense, and physically heavy, that is it has a denser mass.  Also note that there is not one layer of bechamel, but many, one layer of pasta, one of bechamel and one of sauce, one layer pasta, bechamel, sauce, etc. 

 

In the traditional american lasagne, which is probably from some town somewhere in italy, I'm guessing sicily but may be wrong, there is a single layer of ricotta, whcih is low in fat, and some parmigiano, which the italian one also has, and the rest is tomato sauce.  It's not, like the bechamel version, with a layer of ricotta between each layer of pasta.

 

So i sort of prefer it with ricotta because I'm not crazy about a "first course" that's so intensely heavy.  (Remember, people don;t just have lasagne here, it's just a first course, before the main dish!).  Groan.  So, i ask, why are all these italian women so &%#$@ skinny?  Probably all the smoking.  

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #19 of 26

For me ricotta there isn't in the original recipe of lasagna made here in Bologna but I think that you can have lasagna as you want, you musn't have the original lasagna, if you like with ricott you can use ricotta but, please, don't csll it Lasagne alla Bolognese because in the original recipe of Bolognese there is only bechamel and ragu'...

 

Hi Siduri, how are you? Come stai?

 

Io fra due mesi vengo in Canada...

 

Can you understand me?

post #20 of 26

Ti capisco benissimo Simone. 

I think there is some town somewhere in Italy (my guess being sicily) that makes lasagne with ricotta.  And my guess is that  it was passed from immigrant to immigrant. For sure, most of the immigrants in america were not from bologna!  And i think pasta itself was a luxury dish for the poor people who were forced to emigrate.  My inlaws had a store during the 30s and 40s, and they said poor peasants would come in once a week to buy some staples like salt - my mother in law said that once she heard a child ask his mother "can we buy some pasta?" and the mother said "No, of course not, pasta is for christmas, pasta is for holidays". 

 

My guess is that having come to the states and been amazed at the quantities of food that were available and that they could afford, these poor immigrants (like my own parents) just went wild.  Meat was added to everything.  And those who had never had lasagne probably took someone's recipe and copied it, now that they could afford it.  In the immigrant communities, there would often be a mix of italians of different regions.  They taught each other dishes from their own region.  My family was from the Lucca area, but my uncle used to make spaghetti alle vongole because his napolitano friends would make it, and my mother learned to make a crostata di spinaci (a sweet spjnach pie) from her friend from emilia. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #21 of 26

How odd that both Simone and Siduri responded as we were having a discussion TODAY while I'm at a trade show that all their Italian Nona's made it with ricotta and lots of it.   With that being said, those Nona's were "da Napoli e Sicilia" which could offer the "why" some make it with Ricotta.   After having both, I prefer the bechamel.

post #22 of 26

I think that in south Italy probably they made lasagne with ricotta, they use a lot of ricotta instead of bechamel...the crostata di spinaci that you have said is the erbazzone reggiano, is a very good speciality of the city of Reggio Emilia, about 60 km from Bologna...In USA you know best the kitchen of the emigrant, they came from south Italy and they used their recipe...you are right, noone emigrate from Bologna or Emilia, it is a rich region...

 

For FL: she cant' come from Napoli e Sicilia, Napoli is a city of Campania and Sicilia is a region...she come from Napoli or from Sicilia I think...

post #23 of 26

Hi,

 

The answer is yes, definitely use all the ingredients that you would if you were using store bought ricotta.  The egg imparts flavor, texture and, most importantly, it helps ti keep everything together and bind you mixture... 

post #24 of 26

Simone,

 

Mi dispiaci por mio male Italiano... Ancora imparo.   Trying to learn Italian at 60 isn't easy!    Yes, Napoli is indeed a city and Sicilia is a region.   Mio famiglia e Puglian... da Bari.

 

Also, your analysis is correct, the immigrants here in the US came from Southern Italy as there were no jobs post war as all of the better paying jobs were in the North...Firenze, Bologna, Milano, Turino, Genoa...   The agrarian south did not have much beyond farming.   With all of that being said, it's why we in the US associate ricotta with lasagna.   No Bolognese chef would use it; just bechamel!!!

 

Thanks Simone for the Italian lesson!!

Ciao

Doug.. the FL Italian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #25 of 26

BTW... that photo is not me....

 

His name is Claudio and the owner of a ristorante in Firenze called Il Profeta.   It's my wife's dinner he's holding.   The bowl is cheese.

 

 

post #26 of 26

Hi Doug, are you studying italian?

 

If you need an help you can contact me: simone.metalli@yahoo.it

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