Bringing back the burrata

Leah Eskin

Burrata is like that friend-of-a-friend you're always running into. Suddenly everywhere.

When did the soft cheese show up? How does everyone seem to know it? You squint, remembering cheeses past. There's brie in the distance. And chevre, in that '90s getup. You flip through Polaroids of tender taleggios and gritty manchegos. There's a snapshot of fresh mozzarella loping toward the kitchen. It's the hardworking sort that hustles lasagna onto the table, not the elegant type that frequents tastings.

But there — in that faded black-and-white. Doesn't that look like mozzarella, yet different, more glam? It's even got a topknot. That's burrata — fresh mozzarella outside, creamy curds inside. The cheese-making technique dates back nearly a century; the pale cheese it produces only lasts a day.

Burrata, Italian for buttered. Right! Now you remember you were introduced before, that time, at that thing. You didn't catch the name then, but you'll make a point of remembering: burrata, the (sorta) new cheese in town.

Burrata Bites

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Makes: 12 appetizers

1 ripe pear

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 coin fresh ginger, 1 1/4 inches thick

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Olive oil

1 clove garlic, whole but bruised

Kosher salt

12 slices baguette, each 1/2 inch thick

Orange marmalade

1 ball (4 ounces) burrata

6 thin slices prosciutto

Caramelize: Quarter pear the long way and cut out the core. (Leave skin on.) Cut crosswise into thin slices. Heat butter in a nonstick skillet over medium. Add pear slices, ginger and red pepper. Cook until pears are caramel-brown, about 10 minutes. Discard ginger.

Crisp: Set a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the pan. Add garlic and a pinch of salt. When garlic begins to sizzle, add bread (in batches, if need be) and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Discard garlic. Drain toasted bread on paper towels.

Build: Spread each slice of toasted bread with a thin layer of marmalade. Spread each with burrata. Top with a wisp of prosciutto, then a few slices of caramelized pear. Munch.