My daughter Emily owns shares in the milk from a goat herd in a community about an hour outside of Denver in Elizabeth, CO. I knew she had been making goat cheese but I honestly did not know about this arrangement until recently. Maybe because the effort to drive there had fallen by the wayside a bit and it had been several months since she had picked up her monthly allotment which amounts to about 2 gallons per month. A call from the owners of the herd, a drive to Elizabeth and while not frantic, certainly a plea for help. She had picked up almost 10 gallons of milk packaged and frozen in half gallon ziploc bags. Next thing you know I had half of them in my fridge and a burning need to make something from the windfall.
Em had a book on home cheese making called, well, ‘Home Cheese Making’ by Ricki Carroll. I decided one morning to dig into the process and what I found was actually pretty amazing. Easy? So beyond easy…at least for my first effort which was to make plain old Chevre. Which is the word goat in French…go figure! All that is required is the milk and a packet of Direct Set Chevre Starter and some basic utensils…a pot, a thermometer and a large spoon. Really, that’s it.
The first step was the hardest. Heat the milk to 86 degrees. Why hard? Do you have any idea how quickly something gets to 86 degrees on your stove? I sure did not and I spent more time cooling it down than warming it up…but I finally got there and once it was 86, a packet of Chevre starter is mixed into the milk and it then sits out overnight, covered. I found it easiest to do early in the morning, cover it and take care of step two that evening. I bought my starter locally at a place that is typically known for brewing beer but if you don’t have a local resource there are a ton of online places where it can be purchased. See how the curds (solids) and whey (liquid) have separated by morning?
Step Two: Drain the cheese curds from the whey with a slotted spoon and put it into some butter muslin (heavier duty than the hardware stuff) or in my case, this nifty reusable bag I bought from the beer guys. Hang it to drip/dry for up to twelve hours (recommended); I MacGyvered mine by looping the top of the bag through the handle of my microwave, tying a knot and then securing it further with some wire. Just anything to get it above the pot where it can drain. I had to press some additional liquid out in the morning that had settled a bit on the top of the curds but for the most part it was ready to go.
I wanted a smooth consistency so I put mine into my blender. Add a touch of salt to taste for starters and then have fun with it. Dry herbs are best if you want to season it and if you let it drain enough you can roll it into logs and roll them in your choice of toppings. Herbs, nuts, whatever! I left mine plain and gave some to friends and still had enough to make both a Goat Cheese Wellington and a companion pizza as well. It was so good. I don’t know if I’ll ever want to buy goat cheese again; this was super delish!
This was almost too easy…just had to brown some sausage and onions, saute some mushrooms and combine it all together with dollops of goat cheese which were all wrapped in a sheet of puff pastry.
After it’s wrapped, just crimp it closed and brush with some egg and bake. I love puff pastry! I only had one sheet though so I made a pizza too; pretty much exactly the same but on a pizza crust. Either way. Both ways. To die for!
See all of that yummy goodness? The fresh thyme didn’t hurt…I’m still getting some from my garden!
I did top the pizza with more cheese…pizza without Parmesan is just not right!
Of course making your own goat cheese is not a requirement if you want either the Wellington or the pizza so certainly don’t miss it for that reason. If you don’t love goat cheese, then substitute mozzarella in either dish. Next week I’ll be making cajeta (goat milk caramel), it’s a luscious caramel like Dulce de Lece but made with goat milk…so delicious!
Chevre (Goat Cheese)
- 1 gallon whole goat's milk we had unpasteurized but you can also find pasteurized. Using raw unpasteurized milk is only recommended if you know your source and the practices of that source to insure clean, pure milk
- 1 packet direct set Chevre starter
- Heat the milk to 86 degrees F. Add the starter, stirring to combine.
- Cover and let set at room temperature not below 72 degrees fort 12 hours.
- Line a colander with butter muslin or a bag that can be used for draining the whey and scoop all of the solids into the fabric.
- Tie up the ends and hang over a container and allow to drain for 6-12 hours or until curds reach desired consistency. (A shorter time will produce more of a cheese spread and a longer time something more like a softened cream cheese...which is what I went for.)
- Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.