Hot Ingredient: How Local Chefs and Bartenders Are Working with Whey
In our artisanal-locavore culture, restaurants have taken to making ricotta, yogurt, and buttermilk in house, a move that both saves money and provides diners with impossibly fresh dishes. There is a downside, however, to crafting your own curds, and that’s the large quantities of byproduct—in the form of whey.
But instead of disposing of the cloudy, often tangy liquid, chefs and bartenders have started to rely on it for a multitude of cooking applications. At the Gallows, bar manager Tim Hagney takes advantage of the deluge of whey produced when the restaurant makes ricotta for its popular poutine, incorporating the liquid into a silky-sweet rye-based flip, sans egg. “The whey is easier to emulsify than an egg white,” Hagney says. “So you can make drinks faster, while using a product you were going to throw out anyway.” Below, find more ways that chefs are taking “waste not, want not” to new heights.
HOUSE-MADE BURRATA WITH GOAT-WHEY GRANITA, $11 › THE SALTY PIG
For this plate, goat’s milk whey from the stracciatella-stuffed burrata is mixed with sugar and frozen for a traditional granita.“It’s sort of the full circle of the milk,” chef Kevin O’Donnell says. “The granita brings a bit of tanginess back to the dish, and a little bit of sourness.”
GREEN-GARLIC-AND-WHEY SOUP, $12 › BONDIR
“Whey is a really great cooking medium because it’s not as abrasive as chicken or fish broth, but it’s not as subtle as a tea or vegetable stock,” sous chef Rachel Miller says. “I think it’s really nice with the vibrant flavors of green garlic and watercress in the soup.”
SWEETBREADS WITH PEAS AND LEEKS, $14 › WEST BRIDGE
“Whey works really well, giving a tangy little zip when glacéing the vegetables,” chef Matt Gaudet says. “In this case, we were going for a lighter and tart flavor.”
FRENCH VANILLA–WHEY ICE CREAM (coming soon) › TOSCANINI’S
Owner Gus Rancatore has been experimenting with whey from local cheese-mongers, such as Capone Foods and Fiore di Nonno, for salty-sweet scoops. “Ice cream makers use whey because it’s a protein and improves the mouth-feel and smoothness,” he explains.
FLANK-STEAK SALAD, $13 › STEEL & RYE
Chef Chris Parsons uses ricotta whey as the liquid in the feta-and-sundried-tomato mousse on the side of the salad (left). “It adds a little saltiness, and a little ricotta flavor,” he says.