Chaource – A Cheesy Excuse:
Sometimes I get a bit carried away in my enthusiasm to review. When there are interesting products around, I DO generally say yes to any offer to try. Family-owned French dairy Fromagerie Lincet offered me a sample of Chaource cheese and I was sold! It comes from a region of France to the south west of Paris near Troyes and is rich and creamy, made from full fat milk. It also has AOP status (Protected Designation of Origin). Sadly, mine arrived just as I was due to leave for France myself…and so it sat in the fridge for a few days. But, with a shelf life of at least two weeks, I wasn’t too worried. Though it has taken me a while to actually write up this review.
Reading up on the production information, it is a cheese that works in a number of different ways. So, I tried it first on it’s own with a few oat biscuits. For me, the young cheese was something like a Camembert, though rather richer and creamier and with a slightly nutty, mushroomy flavour. Something I’d be happy to have on a cheeseboard.
A few days later I decided to try using a little more of the Chaource in a dish I would normally make with goats cheese. You simply make a pocket in a chicken breast and stuff it with a slice of cheese and perhaps a few fresh herbs (I used fresh, young thyme this time). Then, season your chicken breast and wrap it in ham (I used Serrano ham but the dish works well with Parma ham too). Bake in the oven at 170c for about 20 minutes for a quick and easy mid-week supper.
Absolutely delicious, the chaource melted well and the result was a moist gooey filling that contrasted beautifully with the chicken breast and salty serrano ham.
The final portion of chaource was consumed a few days later when it was fully ripened. It does mature into something quite different to the young cheese, perhaps because it starts with a stronger flavour than brie or camembert (at least the varieties you can buy easily in the supermarket). And, I discovered you CAN buy chaource from the supermarket – at least from Tesco Sainsbury and Waitrose.
Lincet, the family business who make Chaource, is committed to its founding principles ‘flavour, natural ingredients and tradition, brought together to make good food’ and the cheese is made using all-natural ingredients, traditional cheese-making methods and milk from local farms. The hand made cheeses are ladle moulded after the curds have matured for more than 12 hours, resulting in a melting texture and a special flavour (described by Lincet as ‘lactic, slightly acidic’).
I particularly liked the versatility of the cheese. Complex and robust enough to make a great addition to any cheeseboard, it also works well when used in cooking. And, there is a marked and delightful difference in the young and aged cheese.
Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of Fromagerie Lincent Chaource to test.