How to Make Cheese Baskets

Risotto in a Cheese Basket

Risotto in a Cheese Basket

A cheese basket is a small bowl or dish made out of cheese that you can fill with pasta (with a not-too-liquid sauce), risotto, gnocchi, or even stew. Cheese baskets are easy to make, present beautifully, and are perfectly suited to romantic occasions.

Here we have a cheese basket filled with risotto, made by Mirko Margheri, Chef of Florence’s Ristoroante Oliveiero (in Via delle Terme, behind Santa Trinita).

Making a Cheese Basket: What You'll Need

Making a Cheese Basket: What You’ll Need

To make a cheese basket you need a burner, cheese, a pristine non-stick frying pan about 9 inches (22 cm) in diameter, a pair of Teflon tongs that won’t scratch the frying pan, and a cup or bowl to lay the sheet of cooked cheese over.

If the pan is pristine, you won’t need either butter or oil to keep the cheese from sticking.

Making a Cheese Basket: Measure the Cheese

Making a Cheese Basket: Measure the Cheese

Mirko uses moderately aged (18 months) Parmigiano or Grana Padano, but any firm grating cheese will work, including Montasio, aged pecorino Sardo or Toscano, or pecorino Romano (what’s known as Romano in the US).

What’s important is that the cheese not be overly moist, or be filante — i.e. a cheese that strings out when heated, along the lines of Mozzarella, Jack, or Fontina.

Mirko says that grateable goat’s milk cheeses work especially well because of their fat content.

You’ll need about 65 grams of grated cheese, which translates into about 1 1/4 cups, or a couple of handfuls; after you’ve made a few cheese baskets you’ll simply go by eye.

Mirko notes that you can add flavorings to the cheese, provided they not be too moist: Poppy seeds, for example, or red pepper flakes, or even finely minced parsley.

Making a Cheese Basket: Sprinkle the Cheese into the Pan

Making a Cheese Basket: Sprinkle the Cheese into the Pan

Heat the skillet over a medium flame for 2-3 minutes. You want it to be hot but not searing. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the pan.

Making a Cheese Basket: Heat...

Making a Cheese Basket: Heat…

By the time you have finished sprinkling the cheese it will have begun to melt, especially around the edges.

Making a Cheese Basket: The Cheese is Browning

Making a Cheese Basket: The Cheese is Browning

The cheese will begin to bubble, and when the edges brown, use the tongs to separate the cheese a little from the sides of the pan. Another few seconds, and the cheese in the middle of the pan will begin to tan. You don’t want it to brown, but simply color some.

Making a Cheese Basket: Drape the Cheese Over a Mold

Making a Cheese Basket: Drape the Cheese Over a Mold

At this point, tip the skillet so the cheese flows out — it will come as a sheet — and drape it, browned side up, over a bowl or cup.

Mirko used a round straight-sided cup 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter and about the same high, but you can use any shape you want. The sheet will set in about 15 seconds, at which point you can lift it off the cup.

Making a Cheese Basket: It's Ready!

Making a Cheese Basket: It’s Ready!

The first basket’s done, and now you can make the next.

In terms of time required, you’ll need 3-4 minutes per basket.

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Categories: Illustrated Recipes And More, Tecniques

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.

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