Cook’s Session II: Fresh Cheese with Chef Neal Brown

Cook’s Session II: Fresh Cheese with Chef Neal Brown

If you aren’t utilizing facebook events, start now. I’ve been working on a schedule of events to attend, film and write for Into Indy and found some fantastic events on fb. I was thrilled to come across this event!

What better way to start a Saturday off by making cheese? Ok, not the traditional pancakes and coffee – but so much better! 

Chef Neal Brown (Pizzology, Libertine) is one of Indianapolis’s best-known chefs. He has been nominated for several awards and he definitely knows the biz. I was thrilled to find the cook session featuring fresh cheese. If there is anyone I want to learn cheese from, it’s Pizzology. If you haven’t been to Pizzology, I highly recommend checking it out. They have two locations – one in Carmel and one on Mass Ave. 

Cook sessions are free (!!!) classes offered by Chef Brown. Today, we learned how to make fresh ricotta and mozzarella cheese. 

We started with the ricotta. Chef Brown started by bring the milk to an almost simmer (around 200 degrees). He hammered home the fact that you do not want to burn the milk, essentially scorching it. Good, quality milk works best. This is not the time for skim milk! Save that for your Starbucks order, not your homemade cheese. 

While the milk was heating up, Chef Brown went over the basics of whey. From my understanding, the whey is produced by the coagulation from the heat and the acid. Chef Brown added lemon juice and vinegar, but also mentioned that you can add rennet. 

He switched over to prepping the mozzarella cheese, by breaking up the cheese curds. To be honest, this Indiana girl has only ever seen cheese curds at the Indiana State Fair. Deep fried squeaky goodness.  

While we waited for the mozz to heat up, we strained the ricotta, which was awesome to watch. You pour the curds into a strainer and let it sit overnight. He brought out the demo version that was created a day before to show us how it turns out. Creamy goodness… mmmmm.

Breaking or cutting the curd for the mozz allows for more drainage of the whey.  After salting the water (very very salty!), he added the cheese curds into the water. At 180, he started to stretch the cheese. For fresh cheese, you can stretch it and be done. It can be stored in the whey solution but should be eaten relatively soon. Fresh cheese is very perishable. To age the cheese, you can rack it.

After balling up the mozzarella and dipping it in the ice bath to set, he even treated us to learning how to make Buratta. Buratta is ricotta and a tiny bit of cream balled inside of a mozzarella ball. OMG. Drooling. It’s even better with some herbs and fried green tomatoes. This is something that grocery stores can charge a pretty penny for. If you are making both ricotta and mozzarella, why not try to make this as well?

I thought this 1-hour class was the perfect length and moved at a great pace. The turnout was awesome! Major vlogger fail – my gopro was completely dead. UGH! However, national cheese lovers day is coming up (1/20) so I will be attempting to make both ricotta and mozzarella how-to video for my you tube channel. FYI I have a history of many kitchen fails so this will be quiet the hilarious adventure.

I am very much looking forward to more classes offered by Chef Brown! Big thank-you to him and his staff for making this happen. Off to find some deliciously cheesy recipes!


1 Comment

  1. January 15, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    Oh man, this looks like an amazing class! I love making ricotta but have yet to make a mozzarella that turned out right. Maybe I need to head over here for a lesson!

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