Forget lunch and dinner, brunch is, hands down, the best meal of the week. The menu is usually an eclectic mix of savory (eggs, sausage, potatos) and sweet (pancakes, waffles, scones) dishes. Plus, you get to drink Bloody Marys!
But this weekend take your brunch to the next level by making ricotta toasts with fennel jam from Michael Harlan Turkell’s new book Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar. You may be asking yourself, what is this recipe doing in a book devoted to vinegar? Well, the seceret to the cheese is, you guessed it, vinegar. “This is a multidimensional recipe, one in which vinegar plays a role in cheese making as well as jamming,” writes Turkell. “The ricotta ends up fluffy and fresh, the jam stewed and sapid, and the composite is better still, the acidity in each element complementing the other.”
It’s not the simplest recipe but once completed you’ll feel like you deserve your decadent brunch. Bon appetit!
Ricotta Toasts with Fennel Jam
Serves 4 To 8
FOR THE RICOTTA:
3 cups (720 ml) Whole milk
1 cup (240 ml) Heavy cream
1 teaspoon Salt
3 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
Set up a sieve lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl. You can also use a kitchen towel over a colander.
Mix the milk, cream, and salt in a large saucepan (at least twice the height of the liquid, so it doesn’t boil over) and bring to a near boil over medium-high heat. If you have a candy thermometer, take it off the heat once it reaches 200°F (93°C), then add the vinegar and whisk constantly for 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour the liquid into the cheesecloth-lined sieve. The liquid that comes out is whey, great to save for poaching fish and vegetables and to use as a hydrating liquid for baking. Let the cheese drain for 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove the ricotta curds from the cheesecloth and put them in a container. Let cool.
FOR THE FENNEL JAM:
Makes 1 Quart (1 L)
2 Large Fennel Bulbs, sliced, or small dice, about 3 cups
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
.5 cup (110 g) Brown sugar
.5 cup (120 ml) Cider vinegar
.5 cup (75 g) Golden raisins
Trim the tops off the fennel. Cut in half lengthwise, remove the core, and slice the fennel into quarter-inch (6-mm) slices, or if you like a finer textured jam, dice the fennel.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the fennel and salt and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes, uncovered. It’s okay if it browns a little, but don’t let it burn.
Add the fennel seeds and brown sugar and stir to incorporate. Cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vinegar and raisins, drop the heat to medium-low, and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes, until everything gels together and there’s little to no liquid left.
Spread a good spoonful of ricotta on your favorite toast, then add a dollop of jam on top. Sprinkle with salt to finish. To make it more savory, add a glug of good olive oil.
From Acid Trip by Michael Harlan Turkell, published by ABRAMS c 2017.