By Madhulika Dash
Three Chefs, three dishes and a fabulous showcase of one of the finest Apulia theatrics cheese called Burrata
Say cheese, and one can instantly clue into the sight of the melting gooeyness of a fondue, the stringy delicacy inside a good grilled sandwich and the snow-light garnish that makes a pasta dish a masterpiece (Mac n cheese anyone?).
The addictive salty creaminess along with the long shelf life – most cheeses age wonderfully – is known to breed loyalty for centuries now. And while that may have inspired the mighty Roman to continue with the art of taming the notorious (read: short shelf life) milk into something that is as delicious and creamy, it also led to an art form that saw many a wonder created.
One such magnificent piece of art and skill was created on the in the Murgian town of Andria, about two-thirds of distance from the heel to the spur of Apulia in 1920. That cheese was called Burrata, a creamier cousin of mozzarella. Right off the bat, the cheese was as much admired for its velvety taste and curd-like texture as it was for the sheer theatrics – it was many culinary experts believe the cheese that gave birth to the idea of molten chocolate cake. Created inside the skin of a mozzarella, Burrata, which was also called so because of its buttery texture, was created from buffalo milk. It is both a palate-pleaser and the perfect summer cheese. And could pair easily with a lot more dishes without the need of melting it.
This made it an instant hit, even with those for whom cheese wasn’t a favourite ingredient. In India, the Burrata’s arrival was about a decade ago as part for a niche audience. But that was until chefs took a liking for it, especially its texture, taste and what they could play with.
Chef Vaibhav Bhargava, Corporate Chef, Drunken Botanist, whose tryst with the Burrata began a few years ago, found it perfect for flatbread pizza and warm salad and a gracious escort to fresh strawberry, figs and even mangoes. But one of Chef Bhargava’s favourite style of working with this buttery cheese is grilling. “All you need is a few minutes of grill on each side to get this caramelised version of Burrata which is an interesting dessert meet savoury,” says the chef, who uses it generously to give his pasta and pizza dishes a flavour twist.
Today, Burrata is a common name in some interesting menus – and in each case, the buttery cheese has been the hero.
As the new cheese that is flooding supermarket, we get three chefs to talk about this famous Apulia cheese and its many wonders.
Shiitake and Burrata croquettes
Chef Sahil Singh, Executive Chef - Modern Pan Asian cuisine, Pa Pa Ya
“If you love mozzarella, you would instantly dig Burrata – they are cousins, pretty similar in taste and can pair beautifully with a number of subtle sauces. But the best way it works is au natural. A proof of this is the interesting dishes we serve at Pa Pa Ya, where instead of using it as a condiment for the salad, I stuff it with mushroom, panko-coat it and deep fry. This lends the Burrata a nice golden caramelisation on the outside and a slightly smoked gooeyness inside.
The One Mysterious Mousse
Chef Vicky Ratnani, Culinary Director, The Runaway Project
“For me, Burrata is perfect the way it is. It has this impressive element of theatrics which works wonders to get diners glued to the dish. But what I like most about Burrata is the unusual soft texture and fluid consistency, goodness that can be spooned out and enjoyed. The only other cheese which I can think of that Burrata resembles is the Parsee Topli na Paneer. And while versatility is its biggest virtue, the Puglia cheese has a sensitive side too. As a creamy, fresh cheese, one needs to handle Burrata with care. So, always choose the one which is soft milky white in color and creamy without any kind of whey residue. A Burrata works best when stored in a cool place and needs to be taken out a few minutes before plating. The One Mysterious Mousse showcases how easily Burrata can create a perfect marriage – be it a sweet or savoury dish. “
SHD Warm Burrata salad
Chef Jaydeep Mukherjee, Brand Head at Smoke House Deli, Smoke House Deli
“There was a time when we had to resort to cooking mozzarella to get that creamy, velvety, curd like texture. Or in other words Burrata. It is perhaps the most complex yet interesting cheese to work with – it is rich yet mellow and can present a different character when paired with another ingredient. But that is part of the reason why the cheese is a current favourite, Burrata, by the way it is made, also challenges conventional culinary wisdom, and the only way to understand its many moods is to work with her, regularly. In my years of working with Burrata, I have realised that they work best with fresh ingredients like a Strawberry and Burrata with Cherry Tomato Caprese, Honey Balsamic reduction, Salted Sesame Almond Praline.”
Burrata Pizza Recipe
By Chef Vaibhav Bhargava, Corporate Chef, Drunken Botanist
This Margherita-style Burrata Pizza with a thin and crispy crust showcases the two sides of the fresh creamy burrata: Its pairing with sweet roasted tomatoes & basil, and the flavour enhancement once it is grilled.
Prep time 15 mins
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour 15 mins
1. Follow the directions for the rustic Italian pizza dough. (Preheat your oven as high as it will go - at least 45 minutes to one hour.) In the bowl of your Kitchen Aid and using the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sea salt and active dry yeaston low speed until all is incorporated. Then add the COLD water.
Switch to the dough hook and mix together on low speed for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and sticky but should not stick to the sides of the bowl, only a little to the bottom.
(If the dough sticks to the sides sprinkle in a little more flour, if it is too dry then add a bit more water).
After 8 minutes have passed, remove the dough from the Kitchen Aid and cut it into 6 pieces and form them into rounds. Place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature and rise for 2 hours in a draft free area.
2. While the pizza dough is rising, preheat your oven to 350 degree F with the pizza stone in it.
3. Slice the tomatoes in half or thirds lengthwise. Add them to a large roasting dish and drizzle with some olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Gently toss to coat and evenly spread them in one layer. Roast them for about 15 minutes until they start to caramelize around the edges. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
4. Turn up your oven with the pizza stone in it as high as it will go. Give it a good half hour to reach that temperature, or until your pizza dough is ready.
5. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and place a piece of the pizza dough on it. Sprinkle with some flour over the top and with floured hands gently press on it to create a thin pie, round or whatever shape you like.
6. Sprinkle some flour or your cardboard or pizza peel and transfer the dough to it making sure not to tear it.
7. Using a small pastry brush lightly brush the top of the dough leaving about 3/4 inch of the edges untouched. Grate some Parmigiana Reggiano on top and transfer it to the preheated pizza stone by gently shaking the cardboard so the dough will slide on to the pizza stone. Makes sure to sprinkle some flour on the pizza stone as well, just before placing the dough on it.
8. Cook the pizza dough anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes depending on how hot your oven is and how thin the crust. Keep an eye on it, and once it looks golden to your liking, transfer it to a wooden board.
9. Top the crispy pizza with some of the fresh burrata cheese, a handful of the roasted tomatoes and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.