2/03/2013 10:17:00 AM

Chef Secrets: How To Make the Perfect Stracciatella Cheese

In the last two years, Spasso’s stracciatella has single-handedly outsold every other item on the New York City restaurant's menu, which explains why it’s one of the two dishes (along with Spaghetti al Pomodoro, another God-send) that have remained unchanged since the eatery opened. There’s no denying that Spasso’s bowl of hand pulled mozzarella curds, heavy cream, and olive oil seasoned to taste is one of the most addictive cheese dishes we’ve tasted in the city. And we’re not the only ones drooling - Google “Spasso Stracciatella” and you’ll find yourself browsing through an infinite number of fellow addicts’ photos, articles, and blog posts proclaiming their love of the stuff. Makes sense that Spasso owner Bobby Werhane calls it the restaurant’s “bloom and onion.”

Glamorous in form and luxurious in taste, Stracciatella is surprisingly an adaptation of Northern Italian peasant food, a product of leftover mozzarella cheese curds that otherwise would have been tossed. “Stracciatella gives off the air of being elitist - it’s always been featured in fine dining restaurants in New York - but underneath it all, it’s a rustic dish that just sounds sexy,” Werhane says. He sure fooled us! In order to foster community and conversation at the start of a Spasso meal, Werhane and Chef Craig Wallen came up with a classy rendition that’s easy to eat and served with garlicky grilled Graindasy Filone. It no question achieves the goal of sparking awe and chatter.

Fortunately, a dish that appears so intricately crafted is not as complicated to prepare as it looks. You just have to enjoy stretching warm cheese curds and avoid wincing at the amount of heavy cream that brings it all together. Below, owner Bobby Werhane details his secret recipe so we can have a chance at it ourselves...but then again, there’s nothing wrong with forgoing the labor and taking a trip to Spasso for your fix.

1 lb Mozzarella Curd in a container far larger than the amount of curd
Cold Heavy Cream
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions: Fill container of mozzarella curds with very hot tap water. Let curd sit at room temperature for approximately 10 minutes until soft and pliable. If it’s not soft enough, drain water and reintroduce more hot water.

Stretch and fold Mozz curd 10 times with hands and form into a 1” thick rope. Remove the curd from container and place in a more appropriately sized container for curd. Add cold heavy cream until the curd is just barely covered for 10 mins until firm - but if it fails to firm up then refrigerate until firm.

Peel the curd like string cheese into long strands. Holding strings together cut into 2” pieces with kitchen shears. Season with salt to taste, and allow to sit out covered until Straciatella comes to room temperature. 

To Serve: Drizzle EVOO and pinch of coarse salt. Serve with toasted bread hand-rubbed with garlic


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