There’s a game I like to play at work, where I ask my fellow cooks if they’d rather give up butter or cheese. The answer is almost universally butter. One participant only responded, “Kill me”, which is not a fair answer. All the same I think “Kill me” speaks to our dedication to cheese.
I love butter. Some breakfasts are only a piece of toast smeared with butter and topped with salt. I try to have pounds of butter on hand at all times. It’s difficult to imagine life without butter- from perfectly flakey pies to a hearty pad on a steaming baked potato. But cheese, man. I would give up butter in a heartbeat before forsaking the creamy mozzarella, the pungent camembert, the smoked gouda, and the sharp cheddar.
I loved cheese as a kid, but never ate burrata. My cheese consumption was mainly limited to mac and cheese, cheese pizza, and quesadillas. Burrata is one thing that I had never heard of until I was an adult. I’m sure part of it is growing up in the suburbs, where my culinary world was rocked by the introduction to hummus as a teenager. But part of it is also that our collective food culture has changed a lot in the past 15 years. When I was a kid I had never heard of kale, or tahini, or pomegranates. Now all these things are sold at Walmart. It’s a bit strange, but it’s also welcome. I’m all for better access to good food for everyone.
Burrata is an absolute treat, a ball of mozzarella filled with cream and more mozzarella. I had to make it at work for a time. It’s difficult, aching work involving both strength and finesse, and I’m sometimes not capable of either, let alone both at the same time. It’s also a good reminder that just because I can make it doesn’t mean that I should. There are things that are best left to professionals, and burrata is one of them. The best place to get creative with burrata is the toppings.
If you’re in the habit of serving fancy cheeses at parties, this would be gorgeous. The mild, creamy burrata tops a tangle of butter softened, balsamic spiked Brussels sprouts and hot pink pomegranate seeds on good, crunchy bread. The whole thing gets a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. It’s nutty and bright and creamy and just salty enough. It disappears quickly.
But if you are not someone who hosts parties, or if you host parties but are more likely to serve your guests lentil soup than fancy cheeses (me, mostly), this is still worth making. It’s an indulgent meal and a lovely break from the routine. I like to think of burrata (and other good cheese) as an affordable luxury. I may not have it all the time, but when I have burrata I make sure to enjoy them. I would make this for yourself for a lovely solo dinner, or with someone you adore.
Brussels Sprouts Burrata with Pomegranate
This is a good basic template for multiple ways to eat burrata. And if you don’t eat cheese but still want something special, I have a feeling this Brussels sprouts and pomegranate seed topping would be great on pureed white beans.
Serves 2 for a meal, or more for a snack
1 1 /2 cup shaved brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Good bread, cut into thin slices (I used 8)
1 ball of burrata
Flaked salt such as Maldon
Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the brussels sprouts and a pinch each of salt and pepper, then cook, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes until the brussels sprouts are broken down a bit but are still soft. Add the vinegar, stir well, taste and adjust for seasoning.
To serve, arrange the burrata in the center of a platter, surrounded by slices of bread. Top each of the bread slices with the Brussels sprouts and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle the burrata with olive oil and top with flaked salt. Serve at room temperature.