Culinary Spotlight: Burrata: A Step Above Mozzarella

by on Jul 2, 2014
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The process of making fresh mozzarella is quite simple. If you haven’t done it before, I would recommend you give it a try. All you need is some fresh mozzarella curd, salt, hot water and a YouTube video. Mozzarella curd is not readily available at any local fargo grocery store, but I’m sure if you asked nicely and offered to pay for the entire portion, the deli manager may oblige and order you some. A local chef may help you out as well.

Very few things are better than fresh, hand pulled mozzarella with vine ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, a nice olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper. However, burrata may be just a step above fresh mozzarella, although it is technically still mozzarella. Burrata is italian for “buttered.” This is because burrata is sometimes filled with butter and cream, but usually just cream. It’s made using the same process as fresh mozzarella. first, the fresh curd is plunged into salted hot water and hand-pulled to the proper consistency. However, instead of forming it into a solid, it’s formed into a cup and random pieces of mozzarella and cream are inserted. The fresh mozzarella is then crimped on top and remoistened before packaging. The end product results in a fresh mozzarella with a creamy center that runs onto the plate when cut into.

Fargo Dining

During a recent trip to Winnipeg, I ate at a restaurant specializing in spanish tapas. The house-smoked king salmon with burrata cheese caught my attention immediately. I ordered it anticipating a whole piece of burrata that I could cut into in order to expose the creamy interior texture and flavors. Instead, the cheese was already cut and used as a base for the salmon and remaining components. I have to say, I was disappointed. not so much with the dish itself, but with the application of the burrata cheese. If you’re going to cut the cheese in advance, then why not simply use a fresh mozzarella?

At the sake of sounding as though I have no shame, I can tell you that at Mezzaluna we serve our burrata whole with pesto, grilled bread and vine ripened tomatoes. We keep the seasonings and components to a bare minimum in order to let the natural flavors shine through. We believe that simplicity always wins, especially when the ingredients are of high quality.

For now, burrata is still quite scarce in the fargo-Moorhead restaurant scene. i’m sure it may pop up in a few more food establishments here in the next year, but, until then, feel free to join us at Mezzaluna to satisfy your burrata craving.

Eric Watson is the owner of Mezzaluna and Mosaic Foods in Fargo. He is also the founder and president of the Fargo branch of the American Culinary Federation.