Brie is one of the best known French cheeses and has seen a surge in popularity in the United States over the past couple decades, with peoples’ perception of it transitioning from “this is a luxury food” to “this would probably be great on my grilled cheese” mainly in the past ten-fifteen years or so. This is largely due to the tremendous increase in availability and variety of Brie cheeses, which has brought prices down and enabled more people to experience Brie, as well as experiment with it.
While it may have only taken off here in recent times, throughout its history Brie’s popularity in Europe has been immense. In fact, it was dubbed the “King of Cheeses” (or “Queen”, depending on whom you ask) not long after its creation in the Middle Ages, and was often given as tribute to the Kings of France… And if you have ever encountered a perfectly ripened, quality Brie, it’s easy to understand why it was so strongly favored.
Types of Brie
[info courtesy of Wikipedia.org]
Brie de Meaux – Brie de Meaux is an unpasteurized Brie. It is manufactured in the town of Meaux in the Brie region of northern France. It was originally known as the “King’s Cheese”, or, after the French Revolution, the “King of Cheeses,” and was enjoyed by the peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the protection of Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980, and it is produced primarily in the eastern part of the Parisian basin.
Brie de Melun – This Brie is considered to have a stronger flavor and more pungent smell than Brie de Meaux. It is made with unpasteurized milk. Brie de Melun is also available in the form of “Old Brie” or black Brie. This Brie also has AOC status.
International Bries – Bries are now produced all over the world using a variety of methods and ingredients, including herbs, but what always remains the same regardless of country of origin is Brie’s development and texture…
Brie is classi?ed as a “bloomy rind, soft-ripened cheese,” which indicates that it ripens from the rind inward, forming a thin white skin with that velvety “bloom.” When perfectly ripe, it should be creamy and ?avorful, not runny or pungent. It should bulge slightly when cut but not collapse or pull away from the rind.
A wheel of Brie is a quintessential party food due to its unmatched ?avor and elegant reputation. However, in order to maximize its flavor and texture, be sure to remove the cheese from the refrigerator approximately 30–45 minutes before serving.
Once brought to room temperature,
1) Slice the Brie into bite sized pieces.
2) Serve the Brie with a crusty bread or a plain crackers, or with light-colored fruits, such as pears or grapes.
3) For the full experience, pair your Brie with wine. Acidic, herbaceous, dry whites like Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) or Sauvignon Blanc work well, as do champagnes and sparkling wines.
Though Brie is pure heaven on its own, as part of a cheese course, or with cool, fresh fruit, it takes on an equally delightful character when heated. Try baked Brie (see below) for a more traditional take on the cheese, or experiment a bit by incorporating it into a grilled sandwich or homemade macaroni and cheese. Brie in puff pastry is also delicious, and it lends itself perfectly to fondue as well.
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Place the Brie on a glass pie plate or some other decorative oven-proof plate.
3) Bake the Brie for 10 to 12 minutes, until the center is soft.
4) Serve sliced with fruit, crusty bread, or crackers.
Recommended toppings for Baked Brie
- Slivered almonds
- Sliced strawberries
- Apricot preserves
- Raspberry preserves
- Caramelized pears or apples
Other Brie recipes