Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Lasagna…

I’ve been wanting to make cheese at home for awhile.  I work at the university’s creamery, so I’ve learned how to make cheese and ice cream.  Today I decided to make my own Ricotta cheese then use it in a lasagna while it was fresh.

meat

The pork, beef, onion, and garlic mixture.  mmmm

Making cheese is really easy.  The main ingredients are milk, enzymes, salt, and rennet.  However, in a soft fresh cheese like ricotta, rennet isn’t needed.  Rennet is what coagulates the curds together for harder cheeses like cheddar or jack.

curdle

Here it is curdled right before it starts to bubble hard.

As for the lasagna, I usually use beef, but I felt like combining ground pork sausage with the beef.  That was a good choice.  Maybe the fresh ricotta had an effect on the lasagna because it was more gooey than normal.

I shnazzed up the sauce as well with sun dried tomatoes and merlot along with the regular stuff.  I say use 12 noodles, but because I bought mine at a bulk food store, they were loose. So I bought 15 for some insurance.  As for the cheese, I used 2% milk so the yield was a little less.  Whole milk works best.

done

Ricotta Cheese

2 qt whole milk
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 t white vinegar (normally 5% acidity)
1 t salt

In a large saucepan, bring the milk, yogurt, cream, vinegar, and salt to a boil.  Gently boil for 1-2 minutes, until milk curdles.  It can quickly bubble over so keep an eye on it.

Line a colander with cheese cloth and set it over a bowl.

Pour the mixture into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes.  Tighten the cheesecloth around the curd to squeeze out excess whey.  Don’t squeeze too hard or it will ooze out of the cloth.

Makes about 2 cups

finished

Lasagna

1 lb ground beef
1 lb fresh pork sausage
1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 6 oz cans tomato paste
4 T sugar
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup merlot
1 t italian seasoning
1 T salt
1 t freshly ground pepper
2 T fresh chopped parsely
12 lasagna noodles
16 oz ricotta cheese
3/4 lb grated mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a dutch oven, cook sausage, beef, garlic, and onion over medium heat until it’s well browned.  Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes.  Season with basil, sugar, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and parsely.  Simmer, covered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Place lasagna noodles in a pan and cover with extremely hot tap water or hot-but-not-boiling water for 20-30 minutes. They won’t be too soft and will finish cooking in the oven. Preheat oven to 375 F.

In your lasagna pan (preferably 13 x 9 glass or stainless steel), pour 2 cups sauce into the bottom.  Put 6 noodles lengthwise over the sauce.  Put half the ricotta and 1/3 mozzarella.  Ladle 1 1/2 cups sauce on and top with 1/3 cup parmesan on that layer. Repeat for the next layer.  Finish the top with the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan.  cover with foil, but don’t let it touch the cheese (or oil the foil to make it nonstick).

Put in the oven for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and finish another 25 minutes.  Let it rest 15 minutes before serving.

side

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2 Responses

  1. This was the bomb. fo reals.

  2. […] 45 minutes, the noodles were dried and ready to cook.  Now for the lasagna: I’ll be using my usual lasagna recipe but with spinach […]

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