Cheat code stracciatella (2021)

CHEAT CODES (2021)

Stracciatella Cheese

Bringing more stracciatella into your life is self-love. Stracciatella is a soft Italian cheese, which also happens to be the creamy center hiding inside a burrata.

This recipe is the cheater’s version because high reward, low effort cooking is my jam.

Dear purists: Sorry, please don’t be mad. I fully respect the traditional way of making this glorious cheese. It’s just that stracciatella is love, and I’ve got needs.

Solemn Confessions

To honour and acknowledge tradition, here’s a full disclosure on how we will be straying.

Going with cow’s milk
The most authentic stracciatella di bufala is made using buffalo’s milk in Puglia (Apulia), a Southern region of Italy. Instead, we’ll be stretching (strattore in Italian, which the name ‘stracciatella’ is derived from) low-moisture mozzarella made from cow’s milk, which is easier to find.

Alchemy you can eat
We won’t be making our own mozzarella. Instead, we’ll be melting and stretching store-bought mozz, combining it with high-quality cream to create this pasta filata (spun paste) cheese. Spoiler alert: you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quick and fun this process is!

Cheat’s Stracciatella Cheese

15 minutes effort

Makes 360g, keeps for 3 days

Despite how easy this is, the end result is intensely gratifying. It almost seems unfair. Just imagine – once you master this, you could have all the stracciatella you could ever want! See you on the other side.

Ingredients

  • 160g low-moisture mozzarella (Check ingredients when buying to avoid this.)
  • 200g whipping cream (30-35% fat), cold from the fridge
  • Water (chlorine-free)
  • Salt to taste

You will need a large heat-proof bowl, a second bowl and a spatula or large spoon.

1. Prepare for action

Heat water to 85°C / 185°F. This is the perfect temperature for melting the mozzarella. While it doesn’t have to be exact to the degree, a heads up:

  • If your water is too hot, the mozzarella will start sticking to the bowl. (Not the end of the world.)
  • If your water isn’t hot enough, the mozzarella won’t melt evenly. (Clump city, also salvageable.)
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, bring the water to boil, remove from heat and let it sit for 3-4 minutes before using.

While waiting for the water to come to temperature, prepare your mozzarella and cream for action! Slice mozzarella into even strips to ensure they melt evenly and place into a heat-proof bowl. Pour cream into a second bowl.

How thick do I cut the mozz?

I like to cut my mozz strips evenly to be 1cm x 3cm. At this size, it softens consistently and quickly enough for me not to get bored.


Mozz loves a spa day

2. Bath time

Once the water has reached 85°C / 185°F. Pour it over the mozzarella, ensuring that the mozzarella strips are completely submerged.

Allow the mozzarella to soak in its hot bath for 1 minute.


Be gentle when combining the mozzarella

3. Squish & stretch

Use a spatula or large spoon to gently press the mozzarella chunks into each other.

Once the mozzarella has combined into a single, independent and happy blob; it’s time to mingle.

Use your spatula to lift the mozzarella. Depending on the consistency of the brand you’re using, you can either use your other hand to stretch the mozzarella or gravity alone may be enough.

  • Once your curds have a smooth, taffy-like consistency that is easy to stretch; immediately move on to the next step.
  • If curds are tearing instead of stretching, they need to be melted more. Pour off some of the water in the bowl, and top up with more hot water from your kettle to soften the curds further.

Watch out for ricotta-fication!
When combining the mozzarella, avoid stirring the mozzarella vigorously or it may start to separate. Overworked curds become a gritty, ricotta-like texture instead of the shiny, cheese-pull-goodness we’re after. More on this.


A blob magically transforms into a luxurious version of string cheese

4. Get shredded

Transfer your blobby-rope of mozzarella into the bowl of cold cream. Tear the mozzarella into strands. You can make your strands long or short – up to you!

Once you’ve shredded all your curds, give the cream a taste and season with salt to liking.

Transfer stracciatella into a lidded container and keep refrigerated.

Note: the curds will absorb some cream, and the remaining cream will continue to thicken over time. If your stracciatella gets too thick, you can always stir in more cream.

Long v.s. short strands – You can’t go wrong. Short strands for dolloping, long strands for draping onto your pizza.


The next level

After making stracciatella, you’re halfway there to making a burrata, baby!

Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing how in August after a bit more practice so that I have tricks to share. This GIF pretty much sums it up, sans the anxious concentration and self-pep-talk beforehand.


Q&As

1 My curds became ricotta! What?!
You can still squeeze your ricotta-ified curds to remove excess water, and combine them with cream to create a very loose ‘stracciatella’.

This happened either because:

– The curds separated from being agitated too much,

– OR the mozzarella used had additives (e.g. milk protein) that changed the composition of the curds.

If the latter happened to you, you’ll have to try a different brand of mozzarella. When buying mozzarella, check the ingredients on the label. Ideally, the mozzarella should only have milk, rennet, citric acid (sometimes) and salt.

2 When can I use my stracciatella and how long will it keep for?
This is best used after a day in the fridge, allowing the textures to meld together. No harm in using immediately if you want to though! It is a fresh cheese after all.

In terms of how long it’ll keep, it mostly depends on the freshness of ingredients you use. In Italy, cheesemakers suggest that over 2-3 days is too old. In my experience, I’ve used stracciatella 5-7 days after making it, and found it was still perfectly fine and tasted fresh.

If your stracciatella is too old, it will start to become sour. That’s when you’ll know you’ve gone too far!