Monday, August 31, 2009

Mozzarella - Made in Kansas City

My good friend, Jasper Mirabile, is always on the move whether he's working at his family's 55-year-old restaurant, Jasper's (as well as Marco Polo's Italian Market), hosting a radio show or charity event, or making favorite dishes on television. He also is a chef ambassador for Wisconsin Cheese and works closely with our local Hen House Markets.

On Saturday, my camera and I visited the nearest Hen House to see Jasper make fresh mozzarella cheese on-site. This isn't your run-of-the-mill sliced or grated mozzarella; this stuff is ultra soft with a lighter mouth-feel and a more delicate flavor.

Jasper's 'tools' included long black rubber gloves, very hot water in a stainless steel bowl and fresh milk curds. An assistant added water as needed and cut small samples for our little group of appreciative onlookers.

Jasper dipped each piece of curd in hot water and then stretched and kneaded it while submerged. He removed the curd from the water, molded it into a ball, checked its appearance and texture, and stretched it some more outside of the bowl. Jasper molded the curd into a ball again and repeated the process for each piece, until it felt and looked just right. When a mozzarella ball reached perfection, he dropped it into an ice bath, until it could be packaged for sale later on.

This was mozzarella without brine or aging, and a refrigerator life of only a few days. Jasper so appreciates the technique and quality of freshly made mozzarella that he and his staff now make it in their restaurant. What a way to make meals more interesting and tasty for customers.

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