The creamy filling in burrata cheese is called stracciatella (strah-chee-ah-TELL-ah).
Stracciatella consists of shreds of fresh mozzarella soaked in sweet cream.
Stracciatella is a soft, white, creamy buffalo (or sometimes, cow’s) milk cheese* made with straccia (little shreds) of mozzarella. It may be that most people buy burrata instead of mozzarella for the creamy stracciatella†.
It is now sold separately—just the creamy insides without the mozzarella. It provides new gustatory pleasures, as well illustrate below.
Stracciatella originated in southern Puglia. It was created around 1900 in the town of Andria by Lorenzo Bianchino, to use up mozzarella leftovers.
As the story goes, after a big snowstorm Bianchino was unable to transport his milk and cream to the village. At the time, butter was wrapped in spun cheese paste to keep it fresher, longer.
Bianchino tried the method with his cream, and decided to include some leftover scraps of cheese into the cream. The result was magic [source].
It was a local product, premium priced, and remained the delight of the townspeople for some thirty years.
In the 1950s, some of the local cheese factories began to produce burrata, and more people discovered its charms.
Only the last 15 years or so, thanks to more economical overnighting of refrigerated products, did we find it in New York City’s finest cheese shops. It was love at first bite.
And it is now made in the U.S., by dairies including BelGoioiso.
Soft and creamy, this fresh cheese pairs with both savory and sweet ingredients. It is becoming increasingly popular in numerous preparations:
Online specialists like Murray’s Cheese also carry it.
Substitute stracciatella for the burrata in these recipes:
*Stracciatella means “rag”; straccia are little shreds. The name is derived from the Italian word “strattore,” which means to stretch. Mozzarella and stracciatella are both made by stretching the curd. The process is called pasta filata, meaning spun paste (in English it is called stretched curd, pulled curd or plastic curd—the technique is also called plasticizing). The technique consists of kneading the fresh curd in hot water, which gives the cheese its fibrous structure. Pasta filata varieties are made beyond Italy, from the halloumi of Cyprus to the queso oaxaca of Mexico (here are many more examples). Some varieties are aged, such as provolone and scamorza.
†In addition to stracciatella cheese, there are two other “stracciatellas” in Italy. The first is stracciatella soup, an ancient Roman dish broth with a broken egg passed through a fork (shredded). The result looks like Chinese egg drop soup. There is also stracciatella gelato, vanilla gelato with fine chocolate shavings, similar to the chocolate flakes used in some American ice creams.