Burrata is it’s own special cheese, made from mozzarella – it’s a shell of mozzarella filled with fresh curds and cream (which is also called stracciatella). Its something I first heard about in fancy food magazines, the kind that are based in New York and have the world of ingredients available to them in a way many places (like Memphis) don’t always. I ate it first in London, as an appetizer with roasted fruit and toasted seeds that had become quite famous. I next had it at a restaurant that specializes in mozzarella, on a platter with the original, burrata, smoked mozzarella and stracciatella on its own. So it seemed to me like something I could get in Italy or big metropolitan city restaurants, or order online at great expense (which I once did). But now it seems to have caught on, and I can pick up a pretty good version at most better grocery stores right here at home.
Ive been experimenting with burrata, using it as a pasta sauce and on pizza, but I love it for its simplicity. It is delicious on its own, maybe with a sprinkle of salt and pepper or a drizzle of oil and vinegar. I like surrounded by grilled peaches or plums or sliced tomatoes with a dollop of pesto. But put that creamy ball in the center of some flavorful tomato jam and you are in heaven. I use fresh tomatoes here, usually from the farmers market in the peak of season, but to be honest, plum and grape tomatoes from the grocery at anytime will work when you cook them down like this. Using both creates a nice texture. You can easily make the jam a day or two ahead, then just assemble this dish right before serving. The bold white is beautiful nestled in the rich red of the jam. The hint of spice and smokiness is a perfect foil for the creamy cheese. Toasted baguette slices are pretty easy to find in stores, but if you have some beautiful focaccia, try that or some toasted ciabatta.
Burrata with Smoky Tomato Jam
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound plum tomatoes
10 ounces grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 balls of burrata cheese
- Heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Dice the onion into small cubes and sauté until soft and beginning to caramelize, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute. Sprinkle over the cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne and a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir to coat the onions. Cook for a further minute until the spices are fragrant. While the onions are cooking, roughly chop the plum tomatoes and after the spices are fragrant, add to the skillet. Put half of the grape tomatoes in the pan, then cut the remaining ones in half and add to the pan. Stir to combine with the onion and spices and then add the sugar and vinegar and stir to combine. When the mixture begins to bubble, lower the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down and the mixture is thickened. When you run a spatula through the mixture to see the bottom of the pan, the two sides should not run back together and there should be no thin liquid. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour depending on the moisture in your tomatoes. As you stir, pop the small tomatoes. In the end, you will have a rough, textured jam. Season to taste with salt. Cool completely.
- The jam can be covered and refrigerated for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
- To serve, spread the jam in a thick layer on the bottom of a narrow serving dish and place the burrata balls on top. Serve with baguette toasts.