Fried, grilled, or baked, paneer is a great fresh cheeses to make from scratch. The delicious milky lemony flavor can be tilted to sweet or savory dishes. Paneer is a lightly pressed cheese, which makes it easy to slice, dice and plank. This is great for one important reason. Paneer doesn’t melt! This means you can cook it into crunchy forms of goodness, much like tofu, but waaaaay better. It is cheese, after all.
Fresh cheeses should be in a home cooks arsenal of recipes. They are dead simple, require just a few super market ingredients, and are highly customizable. Best of all, fresh cheeses will impress the heck out of your friends and can easily be the centerpiece of your next party.
Fresh Paneer Cheese
• 1.5 gallon stock pot
• wooden spoon
• fine weave cheese cloth or non-fuzzy dish towel
• 1 gallon whole milk
• 1/2 cu fresh lemon juicep
1. In the stockpot over medium heat, bring 1 gallon of whole milk to a boil, stirring to prevent scorching. Use the best milk you can afford as the quality will really show up in the cheese. Pasteurized homogenized or cream-top both work here. (You can try it with ultra-pasturized but it might be rather rubbery.)
2. Stir in ½ cup fresh lemon juice and remove from heat. Cover the pot for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes the yellow whey should have separated from the fluffy white curds. (If it still looks milky, add 2 more tablespoons of lemon juice and let sit 5 more minutes.)
3. Line a colander with two layers of fine weave cheesecloth or a dish towel (not the fuzzy kind!) and set over a deep container to catch the whey. Ladle curds into the colander. When the whey is mostly drained off, tie the corners of the cheese cloth up and hang the bag of curds from a long wooden spoon over a deep pan or bowl so the curds can further drain. Hang cured for 30 minutes.
4. After hanging the curds, place the bag on a plate or flat bottom container. Untie the curds and drape the cheese cloth over (so there’s not a big knot in the middle.) Put a small saucepan, or other flat bottomed container, filled with water on top of the curds. Press for 2-3 hours. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to set.
The curd can now be cut in to planks, cubes or slabs for frying, grilling or baking. This cheese works great in kabobs, grilled as steaks on the grill or marinated and baked. Be sure to dress it in oil before working with it on hot pans or grills so it doesn’t stick.
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