Seen in season two, we enjoyed fresh goat cheese in Sagres Restaurant. Since goat milk isn’t readily available, regular fresh cheese is a perfect substitution! Also known as queijo fresco, Portuguese fresh cheese is a light, creamy, and healthy option when you’re craving a small snack. When I was younger, my mom taught me exactly how to make queijo fresco perfectly. You want to make sure you keep an eye on your milk throughout the entire process, this will allow for the perfect cheese. The combination of reaching your milk to 95-97°F, slicing the curd into quarters, and gently pressing your curds into the molds, will allow for a flawless result. It is common to serve this with a mild pepper sauce on some fresh low carb bread. This is not only a memory of my mom that I have forever, but it also brings me back to the Azores. This recipe calls for 8 servings, but feel free to cut it down to half.
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Half gallon of whole milk
30 drops of liquid rennet
sea salt, to taste
Over a medium to low heat warm the milk to about 95° and no more than 97 … it’s very important not to overheat it or it will not curd.
Once it reaches that temperature add the 30 drops of liquid rennet and whisk really well, add salt to taste , whisk again, then remove the pan from the heat, cover it and leave it aside for up to two hours.
After two hours take a knife and cut the curd into quarters. Place your cheese molds in a large deep container. With a slotted spoon remove the curds into the cheese molds, cover container and place in the refrigerator for a day or two.
On a side note, these molds are very different than what my mom used… but I picked them up when I was in Sao Miguel some months ago. The molds are food grade plastic baskets. Now they’re available in our local Portuguese markets or online…
What I love about them is that I don’t have to worry about flipping the molds when removing the whey each day… I think the longer it stays in the fridge and more whey is released, the better the cheese firms to the consistency I like…. But it’s all about what’s right for you too.
Once you are ready to serve… you can enjoy plain, with added salt, with spicy red pepper sauce. Then you can enjoy with fresh or toasted bread …
*A quick reminder that soft cheese is very high in moisture and small amounts of whey will continue to be released.