It’s here, it’s (FDA) clear, and it needs a good home! Today we received our first shipment of DOP Ricotta Romana: fluffy clouds of sheep milk curd made from the whey of sheep milk cheese production in Lazio, the region surrounding Rome. To earn the DOP title, Ricotta Romana must be made using the whey from whole sheep’s milk that has never been frozen, from four specific breeds native to the region, the sheep must be raised on pasture in the farms surrounding the region of Lazio, and no additives are allowed during production.
Traditionally ricotta is the ultimate peasant food, made as a byproduct of whey produced during cheese production, the name itself translates to “re-cooked”. Whey is protein and lactose rich, and still contains enough ambient butterfat to glean some ricotta as a nutrient rich food. However, today the majority of Ricotta is made from whole-milk as opposed to whey, for a richer texture and flavor. Ricotta Romana is traditionally made using the leftover whey from Pecorino Romano production, and is cooked in the same vats used to make the cheese.
While Ricotta Romana is primarily a whey Ricotta, up to 15% of the total mixture can be obtained from whole sheep milk for better yield and texture. The whey used to make Ricotta Romana is uniquely sweet, and lends a sweet, nutty quality to the final product. After the whey and milk are gently heated, the cheesemakers use perforated ladles to gently scoop out the flakes of ricotta that form on the surface, and allow them to drain in wicker or plastic baskets.
Ricotta Romana is sold in 2Kg (4.4lb) baskets, and it’s shelf life is fleeting (read: a week after it gets off the plane.) This ricotta is so spectacular on its own that you almost hate to adulterate it in any way, but you couldn’t go wrong with seasonal berries and some good local honey. We have a few to get you through the weekend if you are looking for something extra special that doesn’t often make it’s way into Minnesota. Give us a call at 612.521.8725 if you are interested.
If you are feeling especially scholarly and want to know more about DOP Ricotta Romana, check this out, the article is also full of pretty pictures for rest of us.