Yes you can make this chef’s darling cheese at home
Burrata—those pillowy sachets of fresh mozzarella with creamy centers—can be made the hard way, the easy way, and the cheat’s way in your very own kitchen. Any way you go, though, you’ll need a pair of rubber gloves.
Now a chef’s darling cheese, burrata was originally formulated circa 1920 in the Puglia region of Italy, where it is still considered a specialty. Making it from scratch starts with creating cheese curds from full-fat cow’s milk and dissolving small amounts of citric acid and rennet (both available at cheesemaking.com) into some chlorine-free water.
What you’ll need most, though, is patience. You can’t rush curds. The internet offers a plethora of instructions as well as troubleshooting advice if things go awry. But the basic process goes like this: heat milk and dissolved citric acid to 90°F; stir in dissolved rennet and wait 15 to 20 minutes for the curds to set; cut them and cook them at 110°F until they reach the consistency of scrambled eggs; then drain the curds from the whey.
An easier route to DIY burrata is buying curds in small packages at the grocery store to make one ball for yourself, or ordering 3 pounds of curd online and inviting friends to a cheesemaking party.
Eight to 10 ounces of curd make one ball of burrata. Whether the curds are homemade or store bought, pull 2 ounces into threads and combine in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of heavy cream. This is your burrata filling, called stracciatella. Add a teaspoon of herbs if you dare to defy tradition.
To make the mozzarella that will carry your stracciatella to the table, place 8 ounces of curd and a generous tablespoon of kosher salt in a heat-proof bowl. Cover with boiling water, and while the curds soften in their bath for a minute, don your rubber gloves. Dig in, pulling and pushing the curds under the surface of the water until they form a shiny mass of mozzarella. Press the cheese into a ½-inch-thick disk and place it in a microwavable shallow bowl.
To really cheat the burrata process, take an 8-ounce ball of commercial mozzarella, pull off some strands to make your filling, place the rest of the ball in hot water, work it into a ½-inch-thick disk and place it into a microwavable shallow bowl.
Put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Working quickly (while still wearing your rubber gloves), spoon the stracciatella into the center of the disc of hot mozzarella. Pull in the edges towards the center so they meet and pinch them together to form a tightly sealed sachet. Immediately place the ball into a pint container of very cold water to help the burrata hold its shape. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
The tradeoff between the hard way, the easy way, and the cheat’s way to DIY burrata is just how tender the encapsulating mozzarella will be in the end—the more you work the curd, the tougher it gets. Therefore, whichever way you choose to make it, remember you’re working with cheese and not playing with Silly Putty.
Enjoy your fresh-made burrata with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and crusty bread, or try it in our featured recipe.
Whole Grain, Heirloom Tomato, and Burrata Salad
- 2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 anchovy fillets in oil, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons anchovy oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup cooked pearled barley
- 1 cup cooked rye berries
- 1 cup cooked freekeh
- 1 cup cooked small green lentils
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves
- 4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- 2 balls burrata
- Crusty bread, for serving
- Combine shallots, anchovies, vinegar, and mustard in a large bowl. Set aside for 20 minutes to let the shallots mellow out. Slowly whisk in oil until dressing is emulsified. Transfer half of dressing to a small bowl and set aside.
- Add grains and lentils to large bowl and toss with dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add parsley and toss.
- Scatter half of the dressed grains on a large serving plate. Arrange tomato slices over grains. Top with another layer of grains. Nestle burrata balls into salad and slice open to let filling spill out. Drizzle remaining dressing over salad and serve immediately with crusty bread.