Appetizers & Snacks/

Rennet-Set Fresh Cheese

Queso Fresco
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To turn this simple fresh cheese into queso botanera, add your favorite chopped fresh herbs and chiles to the salted curd before you press the cheese into the mold.

From Season 9, Mexico—One Plate At A Time

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Ingredients

  • 1gallon whole milk (choose the best milk you can find; for me that is milk that is local, low-temperature pasturized, organic, not homogenized, made from the milk of grass-fed cows)
  • 1/4teaspoon liquid animal or vegetable rennet
  • Salt

Instructions

In a large (7- to 8- quart) heavy pot, heat the whole milk over low until the milk reaches 90 degrees. Add the rennet and stir well to evenly distribute the rennet. Let the milk mixture rest, undisturbed, in a warm place for about an hour, until the milk gels into a large soft curd.

With clean hands, run your fingers through the curd to break it up. Keep breaking up the curd it until the pieces are about the size of peas. With a skimmer, remove the curds from the whey (the liquid that has separated out) into a medium-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze the cheese, pressing out the remaining whey from the loose curds, until the cheese looks like dry cottage cheese.

Knead salt, usually about a generous teaspoon, into the curds, then press the curds into a mold (a ring mold about 5 inches in diameter is common in Mexico). Refrigerate the individual cheeses in their molds for about an hour before serving.

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