Theme: American Midwest
I will be honest… I really do not know very much about the Midwest besides that the Great Lakes are there, Chicago is known for its deep dish pizzas and Midwest people love their cheese. So what do you do when someone tells you to make something authentic from the Midwest but you have never been there before? Ask someone who lives or has lived there before. In this case it would be my friend Savannah who lived in Wisconsin at one point in her life. She just confirmed that yes cheese curds are a staple there and also a must for me to make. I’m totally on board with fried cheese and all things cheese even if my tummy doesn’t like it as much.
I get the pioneer feeling when I’m doing things like making cheese at home. I’m from Oregon, so growing up The Oregon Trail was talked about a lot in school. I think I even remember churning butter and making our own cheese in elementary school. This time around it seems much more difficult and time consuming.
Let me just start out saying this has been an utter nightmare. I always have these bright ideas to do things and they end up being more time consuming than planned. I started out my morning with the determination to make cheese curds. I live in the worst area possible when it comes to needing anything a little unique. Calcium chloride and rennet may as well be something illegal. I know you can purchase it online but it wasn’t going to be delivered for 2 weeks so that wasn’t an option. My biggest mistake was reading articles from people on the internet saying what you can substitute what with (calcium chloride with non iodized salt and rennet with vinegar). By the way non of that works, which I had to find out the hard way after an entire day and a bunch of milk wasted. After hours and hours the curd never set or tightened together.
I woke up the next morning determined to get this right before just completely giving up. I realized that without rennet this was not going to work so I got on the phone and started calling all the stores that I thought might have it with no luck. Finally I talked to someone at BevMo who told me to call a place in Canyon Lake called Brewliterate. Yay! They had what I needed but closed in 2 hours, so off I quickly went to get it. I Went home and combined the ingredients and let it sit for an hour to coagulate and do its thing. After an hour the moment of truth had arrived. Would it be the right consistency or a failure again… Sucess finally!
1 gallon whole milk
1 oz. buttermilk
2/8 teaspoon calcium chloride
1/16 cup water
1/4 teaspoon single-strength liquid rennet
1/16 cup water
1 tablespoon non iodized sea salt
1. In a large pot add milk. Heat to 90 degrees F.
2. Add buttermilk and mix together. Cover with lid. Keep the temp controlled at 90 degrees F for one hour.
3. Dissolve the calcium chloride into 1/16 cup water and add to pot. Then add rennet to 1/16 cup water and add to pot. Whisk for 1 minute. Cover with lid and let set for 1 hour while keeping the temp at 90 degrees F.
4. Make sure your curds have set all the way. See picture. Cut 1/2 inch vertical lines all the way through your curd and then 1/2 inch horizontal, so it forms cubes. Let sit for 5 minutes.
5. While slowly and gently moving your ladle up and down in the curds start heating them up to about 103 degrees F and hold that temp why continually moving the curds around for 45 minutes. Then let sit for 5 minutes.
6. With your hands press all the curds together and place in a large colander. Rest it on top of your pot over the whey but not touching it. Let sit covered for 15 minutes.
7. Cut into two slabs and stack on top of each other in the colander. Fill a small ziplock bag with 98 degree F water and place on top of the cheese. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
8. Every 15 minutes for the next 2 hours restack and flip cheese.
9. Cut into 1 inch by 2 inch pieces and place in a bowl. Coat with salt and place back in colander. Let set for 20 minutes.
10. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat or use.
After spending two days making this cheese its now time to fry it and make it even healthier. Hehehe…. even though my end results were not perfect they sure were tasty. Next time I will have to work on perfecting that stringy melts cheese. I think with more time coagulating it would have turned out better, but after two days of cheese making I was over it at 11pm.
Cheese Curds (the ones you made)
2 tablespoons ranch dressing powder
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil for frying
1. In a bowl add 1 cup flour, ranch and cornmeal. Combine. Set aside.
2. In a bowl add whipping cream and buttermilk. Combine. Set aside.
3. In a bowl add 1 cup flour. Set aside.
4. Coat your curds with cream mixture, then cornmeal mixture, then flour.
5. Fry curds until golden brown.
6. Serve and eat immediately.