By Chef Mario
This is our take on a classic appetizer. A nice sourdough with a firm crust and lots of nooks and crannies will do best to add texture and to absorb moisture from the cheese and rabe. The bread from the oven of Mr. Chris Fields would more than ideal. To toast the bread, cut into a half inch slice, big enough for about three or four bites. Douse with olive oil on a sheet tray in an oven set to broil. It will go quick, don’t burn it, but a nice char is not a bad thing.
-broccoli rabe, blanched and cut into pieces
-enough ricotta to cover, heavily, your toast
-In a pot of rapidly boiling, salted water, blanch broccoli rabe until tender. Rinse under cold water and cut into half inch pieces.
-In a saute pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and and a clove of sliced garlic together over medium high heat. When fragrant, add the chopped rabe, moving quickly. Remove from heat and set aside.
-Toast your bread, place a hefty scoop of ricotta on top, a pile of broccoli rabe on top, and drizzle with olive oil, the best one you got. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt, and enjoy.
So, that’s the basic idea. You can buy ricotta from the store, which would be okay, or you could make your own, which would be excellent. Probably the easiest cheese you can make, you need nothing more than:
1/2 gallon whole milk
2 1/2 T lemon juice or white vinegar
2 t salt
-In a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot, add the milk, vinegar and salt. Heat the liquid to 190 degrees F over medium high heat, stirring often so as not to scorch to bottom. A thermometer will help, but you should be able to gauge the temp visually. When the whey starts to turn clear, and it forms solid curds, turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
-Transfer to a colander lined with cheese cloth. Echo Hill should have some, but if you don’t have cheese cloth, you can just use a colander by itself if the holes are pretty tight. Let hang for about twenty minutes (literally tie up and hang, with a bowl underneath to catch the drips, or just let it drain sitting in the colander with a bowl underneath, dumping the liquid occasionally), and it should be ready to eat. The longer you hang it, the drier it will become, and you can get some interesting results by letting it dry completely, ending up with something similar to Mexican queso fresco. Whatever you don’t find yourself eating right there on the spot, pair with above recipe. Also makes a very nice dessert with a little honey mixed with a dash of lemon drizzled over the top. Wrap up the leftovers, refrigerate, and keep for up to a week.