On any given day at Murray’s Cheese Shop in New York City’s Greenwich Village, you’ll find some 200 different cheeses, ready for sampling. As someone who has introduced countless customers to myriad mind-blowing varieties, I can say with confidence that one in particular steals everyone’s heart: burrata. And for good reason—silky, milky, and wonderful, burrata is like the best fresh mozzarella you’ve ever had, only better.
Although burrata is not mozzarella, it’s made from mozzarella. More precisely, burrata is a supple pouch of tender mozzarella stuffed with stracciatella, a luscious blend of fresh cream and soft mozzarella shreds.
Invented in southern Italy, burrata began as a frugal way for cheesemakers to use mozzarella scraps. But the concoction was so wonderful, it promptly became a delicacy in its own right. The only trouble is that the cheese’s exquisiteness is ephemeral. Burrata is meant to be eaten within hours, if not immediately, and it’s certainly past its prime after 48. This is the best argument I can put forth for learning to make it. Your own burrata will be fresher, more delicious, and—ultimately—less expensive than any you can buy in a store.
For all its allure, burrata is among the simplest of cheeses. If there’s one thing I want you to hold in mind, it’s this: Yes, making it involves lots of little steps, but this is not a monumental undertaking by any means. The entire process will take less than one hour. (And a mere 15 minutes if you don’t make your own curds!)
I offer you two possible starting points: You can begin by coagulating high-quality pasteurized milk into curds and whey, or you can begin with curd that you’ve purchased. (If you’re doing the latter, start at step 4 in the step-by-step photos below). Don’t feel like you’re cheating if you opt to buy curd instead of making it. Do people who make their own curds stress out about not milking the cow? Of course not. Whether you begin your burrata with milk or with curd, your end result will be delicious. It may take a few tries before you are producing beautiful looking balls of burrata, but regardless, all will taste divine.