Written by MasterClass
Italian cooking is characterized by cheese: hard or soft, cheese is lightly sprinkled or thrown with a heavy hand into almost every dish. For a centuries-old cuisine, one of its most popular cheeses is actually quite young. Hailing from Puglia, the creamy cheese that is burrata was only invented a century ago.
What Is Burrata?
Burrata is a soft cowâ€™s milk cheese that, from the outside, could be mistaken for fresh mozzarella. Both are plump white orbs of Italian cheese, one more solid and elastic than the other. Burrata cheese is distinguishable by its loose texture: small, soft cheese curds and cream are packaged inside an outer shell made of mozzarella.
Whatâ€™s the Difference Between Burrata vs Mozzarella Cheese?
Mozzarella and burrata originated in southern Italy, though burrata is at least four centuries younger. Mozzarella has been a fixture of Italian cuisine since the sixteenth century, at least, and is a key ingredient in Italian cuisine, from pizza to pasta dishes and Caprese salads. Burrata more often is served on its own with olive oil and crusty bread.
When making the cheese, two start off the same way:
Rennet and fresh milk are cooked together until the cheese curds separate from the liquid whey, at which point the curds are drained of the hot whey and kneaded and stretched until they become elastic. Italian cheeses that are pulled into elasticity in this way are called pasta filata.
From here, mozzarella is made by stretching the cheese into a solid round ball.
To get burrata, a mixture of soft curds and fresh cream are stuffed into the unsealed elastic ball and then tied shut. This was invented as a form of reducing food waste in Puglia, because it was a thrifty way make use of leftover mozzarella scraps.
How to Serve Burrata Cheese?
Burrata is a versatile semi-soft cheese that makes every dish more luxurious because of its milky flavor and texture. Itâ€™s perfect on top of a freshly baked Italian pizza, much like Margherita style. It pairs well with fresh tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil for a salad or crostini. Because burrata is best served fresh, it tastes best at room temperature.
How Long Does Burrata Keep?
Burrata is best served fresh, within a couple of hours after itâ€™s made. Cheese producers have managed to package burrata in a way that extends its shelf life, but it should be consumed within five days after opening.
How to Store Burrata?
Placed in an airtight container and covered with water, burrata should be stored in a refrigerator for up to five days.
Easy Homemade Burrata Recipe
If you want to make burrata at home, youâ€™ll save yourself a lot of time and energy if you buy the fresh cheese curds from your local cheese shop.
1.5 lb mozzarella curd cheese
4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
In a large pot set over medium heat, bring 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to a boil. Submerge ½ pound of the cheese curds into the boiling water and leave for 2 to 3 minutes until heated through.
Wearing heat-resistant gloves, begin to knead the cheese until the curds come together and you can start to stretch the cheese and fold it onto itself. If the water cools down, drain it and add more salty boiling water, you want to keep the cheese warm while youâ€™re working with it.
When the cheese is smooth and glossy and itâ€™s reached your desired texture, begin shredding and tearing the cheese into small pieces. Combine the cheese with 4 cups of cream and 1 tablespoon of salt. Set aside while you make the mozzarella shell.
With the remaining 1 pound of curd, repeat steps 1 and 2, working in two batches so that you end up with two discs of mozzarella. When the cheese is smooth, glossy, and elastic, form it into a 6-inch disc. Leave them in a bowl of hot water until youâ€™re ready to stuff them.
Place one disc in an empty bowl so the edges of the disc are flush with the sides of the bowl. Pour half of the creamy curd mixture into the center of the disc and then pinch the edges of the mozzarella over the filling until itâ€™s a solid orb. Dip the crease in hot water to help seal it shut, then transfer to a bowl of cold water to solidify the cheese. Repeat with the remaining disc and filling.