Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lasagna with Home Made Mozzarella

I picked up a gallon/4 litres of milk with the goal of finally making some cheese.  I had citric acid to create the right conditions for coagulation and Junket Rennet tablets to curdle the cheese.  If you've made cheese you already know I ran into trouble. Junket Rennet isn't 'rennet' for cheese making purposes. It does contain some rennet but it won't make cheese like your  instructions describe. The box I bought did come with instructions on how to make a few different cheeses, mozzarella included. 

When my cheese wasn't coagulating as expected I went back to the box and it clearly said 'for custard and ice cream'.  The leaflet of instructions did have a recipe for mozzarella and I only had to add more tablet to follow it, then wait 2 hours instead of 5 minutes. So 2 hours later I had cheese curds in a kind of crumble texture like feta cheese.  I had some mosquito netting lining a sieve which I poured the whey and curds into.  I let the curds drain for half an hour then tipped them out into a bowl.  

The instructions said to put about 1 cup of curds into a two cup glass container and microwave on high for 45 seconds.  It should be hot but not too hot to handle.  Slowly press it into a ball and work it out of the container, squeezing whey out as you go. Once it is pressed into a ball and no more whey comes off, put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds or until it's almost too hot to handle. Take it out and kneed it, then stretch it out and fold it back on itself.  It needs to have the heat worked uniformly into the cheese and the cheese stretched out and folded back into mozzarella. The texture changes to smooth and glossy once it has been transformed. Once you have a ball of warm mozzarellla, drop it in a bowl of cold brine. (1/3 cup salt / quart or litre water) When it's cool take it out, wrap it or seal it in a container.  Use within 5 days.

I made spaghetti sauce with a pound of ground beef and two Italian sausages. I first sweated an onion, 2 garlic cloves, a carrot finely chopped and a diced pepper.  Then I salted and browned the meat and finally added a 16oz can of tomato sauce, 1 can Aylmer tomato soup(no substitutes) and half a can of tomato paste left in the fridge from the day before. I let the sauce simmer while I prepared the rest.

I grated the mozzarella. Mixed frozen spinach in with the ricotta cheese and laid the oven ready noodles out. I put a layer of noodles, spinach ricotta, spaghetti sauce and mozzarella. Repeat. Finish with layer of noodles, sauce and topping of mozzarella. Bake at 350ºF for 50 minutes or until browned.

The fresh mozzarella was wonderful, well worth the effort.  Next time I'll make my own noodles too. I can also make my own ricotta cheese too!

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