DIY Ricotta

Make your own ricotta the Copper Onion way

With a firm focus on flavor, Ryan Lowder has created much menu appeal at his popular Copper Onion restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City. An example of his dedication to straight-forward but delicious dishes is the fact that the ricotta is made in-house rather than purchased pre-made. This creamy, tart cheese adds a decadent dimension to pasta dishes and serves as the main ingredient to one of Copper Onion’s most popular offerings: Ricotta Dumplings.

House-made ricotta is a simple way to elevate dishes, and something easily done at home. Recently, executive chef Jamison Frank took time out of his busy schedule to show how ricotta is made the Copper Onion way. Use this ricotta with pasta, as a filling for manicotti, shells or in lasagna, as a spread for crostini, or perhaps formed into a fancy cheese ball to serve at a party—the options are endless. More dense and flavorful than store-bought, homemade ricotta can be made for virtually the same price, so there’s no excuse not to try. “It is delicious. And it is very easy,” says Frank. “You can do it in five minutes and have it for dinner.”

To make a half-gallon batch of Copper Onion’s ricotta, combine ½ gallon of whole milk, one cup of heavy cream and two tablespoons of buttermilk in a large pot. The whole-fat dairy and buttermilk give the cheese body and a rich taste.

Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat. Once it’s boiling, add ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice and a tablespoon of salt. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for five minutes, then say hello to your curds and whey. With a slotted spoon, carefully scoop the curds into a cheesecloth. Place the cheese over a container to catch the draining liquid.

“You can drain it as long as you want. The longer you drain it, the more dense it becomes,” says Frank. Depending on how the ricotta is used, you can then stir in chopped fresh herbs or spinach. Or perhaps with something sweet, to pair with grilled fruit. The possibilities are endless with this versatile cheese.

Bringing Copper Onion’s DIY approach into your home kitchen is easier than you think. This simple recipe for ricotta is a cinch and sure to become one of your favorites.

Copper Onion. Restaurants in Salt Lake City. Devour Utah
Left: Strained cheese curds, Center: Copper Onion executive chef Jamison Frank, Right: Creamy, tart homemade ricotta. Photos by John Taylor

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