Excerpted from Charlie Palmer's new cookbook, American Fare
2½ cups (about 1 ¼ pounds) fresh ricotta cheese
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
About 24 Brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly coat the interior of a shallow 3-quart glass or ceramic baking dish with butter.
Combine the ricotta with the eggs, milk, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl, beating to blend. Fold in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Arrange the Brussels sprouts, cut side up, in the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the top with the thyme.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts are cooked and lightly colored and the cheese is bubbling and brown around the edges. Serve hot.
Note: If you want to make fresh ricotta, here’s what you do: Line a strainer with 3 layers of moist cheesecloth and set over a large glass bowl. Combine 2 cups whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 1½ tablespoons white vinegar, and ½ teaspoon salt (or less or more, depending on your taste) in a 4-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes or until the milk is just beginning to bubble and it registers 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir for 5 seconds. You will see the mixture begin to separate into solid curds and opaque liquid (the whey). If this doesn’t occur, microwave on high for an additional 30 seconds or until the separation is evident. (If you don’t have a microwave, place the milk, cream, and salt in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook at a full boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Then, let the mixture rest for about 1 minute or just until it separates into curds and whey.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the curds to the cheesecloth-lined strainer, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to drain for about 25 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. The longer you allow the mixture to drain, the denser the finished cheese. Transfer to a nonreactive container and store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 5 days.