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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Burrata Alla Panna from Di Stefano Cheese


I have never met anyone who didn't like cheese.  I guess I've met people who couldn't eat cheese for some reason, but not because they didn't like it.  Thankfully I'm not one of those people, and I make it a habit to incorporate cheese into every dinner that I have time to put some forethought into.  Well, let me think about that--is it a habit if every good thing you can think to cook contains cheese?  Or would that be a compulsion?

Along with the organic butter from Five Star Farms Anson brought home from the L.A. Specialty Food Show three little balls of beautiful white cheese wrapped in green plastic leaves and tied with a ribbon. (Boy does he know what kind of presents I like.)  Burrata alla Panna--that ephemeral cousin of fresh mozzarella.  It's come to the attention of cheese lovers over the past couple years and I've been seeing it on nicer restaurant menus.  You can even get a version of it at Trader Joe's, though I think theirs is more like fresh mozzarella than burrata.

So what makes it different?  Burrata is made by filling a thin skin of fresh mozzarella with rags, or straciatella, of fresh mozzarella curds that have been mixed with cream, or panna.  The top is twisted together to keep the creamy insides in.  It's normally a very perishable cheese that needs to be consumed within a couple days. The cheese that Di Stefano Cheese is making in the Los Angeles area has a shelf life of 30-days unopened.  According to their website, the cheese would traditionally be wrapped in blades of a leek-type plant to indicate it's freshness. When the leaves are dried out, the cheese is past it's prime too.  Their very clever packaging mimics that tradition and also gives you the thrill of opening a present. And who doesn't like cheese presents?


The flavor of the burrata is really quite mild, far from the salty, processed mozzarella that most of us grew up eating (not that I don't still put that on pizza).  The mozzarella skin is easily broken and reveals a thick custard-like filling. It's delicate in both it's texture and flavor--imagine fresh sweet milk that has been thickened.  I found when eating it plain that it needed a touch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper, but pairing it with fresh pesto really set it off. It would be natural to serve burrata with some fresh summer tomatoes and basil, or add it to a crispy pizza with tomatoes and squash blossoms as they do at Pizzeria Mozza (incidentally the eatery credited for popularizing burrata in L.A.).


So if you can't eat cheese, I apologize for these photos, but I'll make it up to you by eating any other cheese you can't.  Yep, I would do that for you.

12 comments:

  1. OMG! This cheese looks so great. I like that it opens to a creamy texture. Even though it's not quite the same, I think I will check out what Trader Joe's has. Your photos make it look so tempting!

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  2. I have serious burrata envy right now. We can get it in NY, but it's not nearly as delicious as eating it freshly made in Italy. Still I'd settle for that too right now. With pesto on the side!

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  3. I tasted burrata about a year ago and absolutely love it. It's not always easy to find and has to be eaten soon after been bought, but what a treat!

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  4. Hi Sarah. I only found out about this cheese on the bus ride back from Ixtapa to the airport. Brooke told me about it, while Adam, Matt, Diane and Todd all nodded their heads in vigorous agreement over its deliciousness. I got that it was made from cream but hadn't picked up the complexities - your mozzarella skin and curds and cream interior have filled me in. Displayed perfectly in the 1st photo. Since I can't get it here, you've got a lot of cheese-eating to do in the way of making up ;-)

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  5. Hi! We love burrata cheese! In fact, just had it mid-week at a small Italian restaurant (Baci) in Placentia. Not sure where I can get some locally... do you know??? [K]

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  6. Hi Kim,
    Thanks for stopping by! I haven't seen it anywhere except Trader Joe's, but that's not to say it isn't available in specialty stores. It's a difficult cheese for retailers because it usually need to be eaten pretty quickly. Maybe you can stop by the plant if you are around Baldwin Park?

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  7. Just bought some at Whole Foods. What a treat...especially with a sprinkle of Maldon salt.

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  8. I love the combination of burrata with fresh pesto too!

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  10. I made a burrata cheese yesterday and according to recipe it says to string apart curd after few minutes in the hot water andthen add cream. My question is mine looked like chunks of mozz in a creamy bath. Should I be doing something different like adding flavor or whipping the cream first?

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  11. Try it on a toast with honey. It's a whole other experience! It'll change your life.

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