Admission: We are addicted to burrata, a filled ball of mozzarella. When we discovered it 20 years ago, it was only carried by a few U.S. cheese shops, in cities with direct flights from Italy, its place of origin.
Today, America’s cheese makers are turning out their own burrata: just as creamy, milky and delicious as the imports. You don’t have to hunt for it, either: It’s at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Markets!
Cheesemakers from coast to coast are delivering their burrata to stores and restaurants. Burrata is made by (among others) Belfiore, DiStefano and Gioia in California; Maplebrook Farm in Vermont; Lioni Latticini in Brooklyn; and the retailer DiBruno Bros. in Philadelphia. In the middle of the country is Belgioioso Cheese of Wisconsin, possibly the largest domestic producer of burrata.
It is also made by restaurant chefs. One has provided a recipe is below).
One of the more popular ways to enjoy burrata is in the center of a green salad, with crusty garlic toast. We can eat the whole burrata on salad for lunch.
RECIPE: SPRING BURRATA SALAD
This Burrata Salad from Good Eggs in San Francisco is oh-so-delicious. It takes just 5 minutes active time, 10 minutes total time.
Ingredients For 1-2 Servings
8 ounces burrata cheese
1 cup of basil, chives, parsley or a mixture
3 cups of baby greens
1 watermelon radish, peeled and sliced thinly into half-moons
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 slices of sourdough bread
2 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Top: A popular Italian burrata salad with frisée, radicchio and prosciutto, at David Burke Fromagerie. Bottom: Spring salad at Good Eggs.
1. DRAIN the burrata in a colander lined with a paper towel—you don’t want to pierce the skin of the burrata, but you do want any extra whey (the watery stuff) to drain off. While it drains…
2. TOAST the sourdough bread until golden brown. Rub the finished toasts with a halved garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil.
3. FILL a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Add the herbs, radish and greens and toss with the dressing.
4. SLICE or tear the burrata into large chunks over the top of the greens. Serve with the garlic toast and a peppermill for freshly-ground black pepper.
Add or substitute other spring:
Cardoons, fiddlehead ferns, nettles
Chives, garlic scapes, ramps
Pea greens, peas, pea pods, snow peas
We love the combined flavors of tomato and burrata. When vine-ripened tomatoes aren’t in season, use cherry or grape tomatoes, sundries tomatoes or roasted red pepper (pimento).
Lovers of Caprese Salad can add some fresh basil.
Top: from Chalk Point Kitchen in New York City. Bottom: Peaches with burrata, honey and pistachio nuts from Eat Wisconsin Cheese. Here’s the recipe.
BURRATA FOR DESSERT
You can also serve burrata for the cheese course or for dessert. Add spring fruits: blackberries, black mission figs, lychees and strawberries.
Drizzle with honey and garnish with pistachios or other favorite nut(s). It’s so elegant, yet so easy to prepare.
May we suggest including a glass of dessert wine? They often have peachy, honey notes that are a perfect pairing.
WHAT IS BURRATA?
Burrata is a “filled” mozzarella, a specialty of the Apulia region of Italy, the “heel of the boot.” The word means “buttery” in Italian.
A hollow ball of buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala) is filled with panna, cream that contains scraps of mozzarella left over from mozzarella-making. It seems like very fine-grained ricotta.
Cut into the ball and the cream oozes out. While both buttery and creamy it is not overly rich; just overly delicious.
Burata imported from Italy it’s traditionally wrapped in a green leaf, the fronds of an Italian plant called asphodel, in the lily family.
The leaves are an indicator of freshness: As long as the leaves are still fresh and green, the cheese within is still fresh. Dried-out leaves mean a cheese is past its prime.
Because it travels, the cheese also wrapped in a clear plastic bag to catch the natural liquid that drains from it.
Here’s more about burrata cheese and the history of burrata.
RECIPE: HOMEMADE BURRATA
If you can find mozzarella curd, you can make your own. This recipe is from Chef Todd Andrews of restaurant Anella.
6 ounces fresh mozzarella curd
1 cup cream
Ingredients For An 8-Ounce Ball
A picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s one of several burrata videos on YouTube.
1, CUT the mozzarella curd in half, setting one half aside. Grate the other half with a cheese grater into a bowl and mix well with the cream until smooth, creamy and completely incorporated. Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Place the filling in the fridge until ready to use.
2. HEAT a pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, turn the heat off and wait five minutes. When water is just cool enough to be able to touch with your bare hands, drop the remaining half of mozzarella curd into the water. Remove with tongs after about five minutes, and press flat against one hand with the other hand.
3. TAKE the mozzarella in both hands and stretch it across one hand until even. With an ice cream scoop, scoop a heaping amount of the filling into the center of the cheese. Stretch the cheese around the filling, pulling it toward the center of the filling until completely stuffed. It’s ready to serve!
4. SERVE with extra virgin olive oil and fresh pepper.