Homemade Mozzarella & Sausage Pizza

After making ricotta on a few occasions recently I couldn’t help but become interested in other easy to make cheese. After thumbing through Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll, Mozzarella seemed to be the the logical next step as it is relatively easy to process and does not require aging, coating or pressing like a an aged cheese does.

A word of warning for those who feel like whipping up a batch of burrata at home: You will need rennet tabs, citric acid and cheese cloth, all of which you can order online on Amazon.com or a variety of other retailers.

Mozzarella is surprisingly easy to make, however you need to be patient and work only on the cheese. Additionally, you might be shocked, as I was, by how little cheese 1 gallon of milk actually makes.

The final product was perfect for pizza, as it was slightly tougher and chewier then I would have preferred for say, a caprese salad. I’m going to blame this on my overzealous processing as a first time cheese maker. If you want creamier, softer cheese, remove less of the whey and knead fewer times towards the very end of the process (you’ll see what I mean further down). Other then the not entirely satisfying texture, the cheese tasted exactly like store bought mozzarella!

Overall it was a great experiment and one that I will definitely attempt again the the future. There is nothing quite as satisfying as cooking with ingredients you have made or grown yourself. People usually experience this through potted herbs or backyard gardens, but I highly recommend adding homemade cheese to this list.

Homemade Mozzarella (makes 1 lb)

1 gallon whole milk, the less pasteurized the better
1 rennet tab, crushed and mixed into 1/4 cup cold milk
1.5 tsp citric acid dissolved into 1 cup cold water
2 large rectangles of cheese cloth

Pour milk into a large stainless steel pot. Add 1.5 tsp citric acid that has been diluted in 1 cup cold water. Heat the milk slowly until it reaches 90F. You do not want to overheat or pasteurize the milk. If it is too hot or too cold the rennet will not effectively work (rennet is what gives the mozzarella its stretch). Remove the milk from the heat and stir in the rennet mixture. Cover and let sit 30 minutes or until the curd is thick and pulls away from the side of the pot.

When thickened, cut the curds in 1-inch squares using a knife long enough to touch the bottom of the pot (pictured at left). Return the mixture to the stove and heat to 105F, stirring slowly and carefully.

Remove the pot from the stove. Carefully strain the curds from the whey into a cheese cloth lined colander. Let the mixture drain, aiding it by lifting and squeezing the cheese curd pouch to release the liquid. When most of the liquid has been drained place the curds in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave, drain the remaining whey and knead. Return it to the bowl and microwave for another 30 seconds. At this point the cheese should be quite warm and almost too hot to touch. Remove from a bowl and knead until the cheese stretches. Knead back into a ball and allow to cool.

Homemade Mozzarella & Sausage Pizza (serves 6-8)

2 Bertolli pizza crusts (I made cheese, I didn’t feel like making crust too)
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings and sauteed
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup kalamata olives, finely chopped
2 tsp rosemary, diced
1 lb homemade mozzarella cheese, ripped into small pieces
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
pepper to taste

Make a pizza! Top your crust with tomato sauce, mozzarella, olives rosemary and sausage (or any toppings that you prefer). Finish with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and pepper.  Bake in a 450F for 8-10 minutes or until crust is beginning to golden and cheese is gooey.