To a cheese lover, burrata is what a candy-coated truffle is to a chocolate fan. Burrata is a package of yummy goodness – a creamy cheese (stracciatella) cloaked in a gentle shell of mozzarella. The word burrata means buttery in Murgia, Italy, the tiny village where cheese artisans crafted the first burrata over 100 years ago. Now, burrata has recently been holding onto its steadfast spot at the top of some of the most fashionable restaurants around the world. Burrata is usually served at room temperature or slightly chilled, alongside little piles of sliced fresh tomatoes, bite-size pieces of grilled bread or atop salads. Sometimes, burrata gets a flavorful splash of balsamic, or a sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper. Arugula and radish, chopped ever so finely into tiny slivers, are also favorites of chefs who want to add a little punch of flavor to the more mellow cheese. Whatever the preparation, cheese devotees know that where there’s burrata, there’s a whey. Here’s where to find some:
1625 Hinman Ave., Evanston
At Hearth in Evanston, chef de cuisine Michael Elliott makes a burrata crostini appetizer with heirloom tomatoes, green goddess dressing and pickled radishes. Elliott also adds duck prosciutto “for a little salt.” “It’s just a little different spin on traditional prosciutto, which people are very familiar with,” he said. Then, he tops it off with baby basil leaves. In the summer, they grow in the restaurant’s front garden.
“Burrata is a very versatile cheese,” Elliott said. “It has a very mild flavor, so it lends itself to a lot of supporting flavors while keeping its creamy texture. The green goddess adds herbaceous-ness and the pickled radishes add acid to cut the fat of the cheese. The prosciutto adds just a little bit of funk to make it something special.” Elliott serves his burrata with bread freshly made down the street at Hewn Artisan Bread (www.HewnBread.com). He grills the bread to give it a little char and bitterness. “It adds texture and again helps cut the cheese and acidity,” he said.
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