Greens with Spiced Butter and Fresh Ricotta
- 4 cups (1 quart) whole milk, preferably not homogenized
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns, plus 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 3 thin slices fresh ginger root, plus 2 tablespoons minced
- 1/2 stick soft-stick cinnamon, crumbled
- 2 bunches collard greens, leaves stripped from the stems and cut into 1-inch pieces (12 cups chopped)
First, make the ricotta cheese: Line a sieve with two layers of cheesecloth. Combine the milk and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a 3-quart or larger saucepan over medium-high heat. Watching the pot, bring the milk to a gentle simmer at the edges, and then whisk in the vinegar. The milk will separate into white curds and yellowish whey. Let it sit 10 minutes to allow the curds to gather together, then gently pour the curds through the cheesecloth-lined sieve, saving the whey for another purpose (such as stock for soup making). Drain the curds until you have creamy curds, and set aside.
For the spiced butter, combine the butter, black peppercorns, cumin, cloves, bay leaves, ginger root slices and cinnamon in a small saute pan over medium heat and cook until the butter browns at the edges, about 3 minutes. Let the butter steep until just warm to the touch. Pour the contents of the pan through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to remove all of the butter. Discard the spices and ginger.
Heat a 12-inch or larger skillet over high heat. When hot, add the spiced butter (holding back the brown deposits at the bottom of the bowl), minced ginger, collard greens, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the ground pepper, stirring to coat the greens with the butter. Cook over high heat, stirring often, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the brown butter bits at the bottom of the bowl, and stir to combine. Transfer the greens to a shallow platter, garnish with dollops of fresh ricotta and serve immediately
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