Ashleigh Shanti’s Black Pepper Buttermilk Cheese

Chef Ashleigh Shanti (@foodordeath_) served this dish at a special dinner at Audrey, Sean Brock’s new restaurant in Nashville, in early August, prior to its opening to the public. The two chefs created a menu inspired by Appalachian and Black Appalachian culinary history and served on East Fork pottery, another product of the region.

Ingredients:
2 cups cultured buttermilk
2 cups full fat milk
Juice and zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper

Special Equipment:
Candy Thermometer
Cheesecloth

Prepare:
In a small pot, heat buttermilk and milk over medium heat. Stir in zest, juice, salt and pepper. Heat to 125 degrees: use a candy thermometer here. After 7-8 minutes of no stirring, buttermilk should begin to automatically separate curds from whey. Continue to simmer over low heat for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Using a ladle, begin to scoop curds into a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set into a large bowl to catch whey underneath. Once large curds have been removed, slowly pour remaining whey with smaller curds into the strainer, careful not to break large curds. Allow cheese to continue to strain for 4-6 hours. Once strained, reserve whey and set aside for later use.*

Notes:
Save reserved whey for cooking legumes and beans.

Longer straining time will yield a dryer cheese. If it’s too dry, reincorporate whey until desired consistency is achieved.