What do you need to make some of the tastiest cheese? Four simple ingredients and an Instant Pot. —INGRAIN, Summer 2019
STORY / Lisa Futterman
Make some saag, grab some naan. Or try pan-frying paneer in a spicy chickpea flour batter—you’ll forget every dive bar cheese curd you ever ate.
Makes about 1 cup
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or sea salt)
COMBINE 2 cups half-and-half + 2 cups whole milk + 2 tablespoons white vinegar in Instant Pot. Close lid and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes; release pressure. Meanwhile, line a strainer with damp cheesecloth (leave some cloth hanging over the sides of the strainer) and place over a bowl.
REMOVE Pot lid; the contents should be separated into curds and whey. Add 1 teaspoon salt (kosher or sea), stir gently to loosen any curds stuck to the pot bottom/sides, and transfer to strainer.
Paneer for a minute or two, fold the excess cloth over the cheese, and press down gently to remove excess whey. Reserve whey for another use.
PLACE Wrapped cheese in a small dish and place a weight (like a soup can) on top of cheese. Refrigerate cheese for 8 hours or overnight, unwrap, and crumble or cut into cubes. Keep refrigerated and use within 3 days.
Experts quarrel about how long it takes to form a habit before it sticks, but my Instant Pot habit isn’t going anywhere. Take, for example, my new fresh cheese infatuation. The dairy genius inside me began to understand: You don’t NEED an Instant Pot to make fresh yogurt, paneer, cottage cheese, or ricotta. But it sure makes it easy. Making yogurt, for instance, is ridiculously simple because the pot keeps the milk at a low, steady temperature, and it’s all self-contained.
Another favorite to make is paneer, the unaged farmer’s cheese (curdled and strained milk, in other words) that acts as the humble mediator between the dueling refrigerated and use within 3 days spices in many Indian dishes. The loaf is often cut into those delicious spongy cubes bobbing in your palak paneer.
If you’ve made yogurt, you’re halfway to paneer—only here, no thermometer is required and time is measured in minutes, not hours. I use a combo of milk (organic, if you’d like) and cream to match those rich, buttery Indian sauces. You’ll also need some cheesecloth (4.99, Bed Bath & Beyond) , which is like muslin that you use to drain the whey from the curds. Bonus: Save the whey. It’s a delicious, protein-rich liquid you can use in future smoothies, bread doughs, soups, biscuits, pancakes, marinades, and brines. Crazy versatile.
Once you try making fresh cheese in your Instant Pot, you may not be able to stop. I warned you.