Why you have to love the “King of Cheese”.
This wonderful soft cheese, coated in white mold and made from cow's milk, takes its name from its origin, the Brie region. This region, located in the east of the Île-de-France, lies in the area around Paris, between the Seine in the south and the Marne in the north and is considered a particularly historic region in France.
In order to distinguish the cheese from the region, in French we speak of "Le Brie" when we are talking about the cheese and "La Brie" when we are talking about the region. As the most copied cheese in the world, since neither the name nor the production process of Brie is protected, one might assume that the French mostly refer to it as "La Brie"...
It is rumored that Brie existed before the Roman invasion and it is certain that Charlemagne and Robert le Pieux knew and enjoyed the unique taste of Brie. Thanks to the champagne fairs in the 10th-13th centuries. In the 19th century, the “Brie de Provins” spread from its region of origin all over the world. As a cheese that was enjoyed by both the nobility and the poor, it was named “King of Cheeses” in a cheese competition at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and not only provided a good meal, but also an exciting competition to entertain the participants of the Congress.
Precisely because of the lack of territorial protection, Brie is not only produced in France, but all over the world. The two Brie varieties "Brie de Meaux" and "Brie de Melun" are the best-known Brie varieties of French origin.
This delicate cheese is made from cow's milk and thickened with rennet. Instead of the cheese harp or pressing, the jelly of the future sweetbread is carefully scooped into a perforated mold from which it drains for between 18 and 36 hours. This is precisely where the art of production lies, in scooping the curds evenly into the prepared shape and allowing the whey to drip off optimally. After about a week of dry ripening, the Brie is sprayed with noble mold cultures, which allow the dough to ripen for another two to four weeks.
Covered in a whitish noble mold, the sweetbread dough has colors ranging from white to creamy yellow. Depending on the degree of ripeness, the Brie is firm and gypsum-like or soft and almost flowing. In general, its dough has only a few break holes and tastes aromatic, slightly sour to slightly spicy.
The difference to Camembert:
Despite the many similarities between the two types of cheese, there are a few differences between Brie and Camembert:
- a Brie is larger than a Camembert, which is why a Brie has to mature longer
- Camembert is sold in rounds, Brie is only sold in pie-like triangles due to its size. These are also called brie corners.
- The brie is only covered with mold on the top, bottom and back, so that its dough is exposed to the sides.
- Brie comes from a region east of Paris and was already known as a cheese in the 8th century. Camembert, on the other hand, comes from Normandy.
Recipe of the month "Potato gratin with Brie":
"La Brie" is exactly the cheese that cannot be missing from a mixed cheese platter. But it can also be found in warm dishes in soups or sauces after the bark has been removed, as its consistency means it melts well. A friend of mustard sauces and salads, Chardonnay or dessert wine, it also goes excellently with potato dishes and braised vegetables. Brie should not be underestimated with a not too sweet apple or a Burgundy, Bordeaux or Beaujolais. Brie should be eaten especially in winter, as it is tastiest at this time of year.
Ingredients for 4-6 people:
- 1.5kg potatoes
- 250ml whole milk
- 250g cream
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 500g of Brie de Meaux
After washing and peeling the potatoes, cut them into thin slices. Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely. Before pouring the milk and cream, rinse the pot with cold water and do not dry it so that the milk does not burn at the bottom of the pot. After the milk and cream have boiled, add the potato slices and bring to the boil again. Then remove from the heat and place in a baking dish. Now melt 100g of the sweetbread with the garlic and a little butter. Cut the remaining brie into slices to top the boiled milk and cream brie in the baking dish.
Let the gratin bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes. As soon as the gratin has become creamy, it can be served.