Camembert is the emblem of Normandy. It’s delicious by itself on a slice of bread, but you can transform it into a delicious meal by roasting it in the oven. The recipe is very easy and a great opportunity to learn more about cheesemaking and a region with fascinating History.
Cook for 20 minutes
With this series of articles, I aim to share a French recipe not only to prepare a dish, but to prepare a full experience that will allow you to discover a new place – from home. The food you’ll cook is just one of the ingredients you need for the experience. I’ve picked dishes that are easy to make or to adapt when you don’t live in these regions. Have your pan, forks, speakers and globe trotter’s curiosity ready!
Where are we going?
The region: Normandy
A few words about Normandy
From a Viking territory to William the Conqueror, the Norman who became an English King, and the D-Day landings, Normandy holds an important place in Western Europe’s history. Although it’s hard not to think of war when talking about Normandy’s heritage, there’s a lot more to it.
You’ll come across beautiful towns with old city centres, such as Rouen for example, where I lived for a few years when I was a student. It used to be the Viking’s capital and William the Conqueror lived there too.
The beaches and coastal towns in Normandy are popular for nearby Parisians to relax for the weekend, such as Honfleur or Deauville. The Mont Saint Michel, at the frontier with Brittany, is the most visited place in France after Paris. Normandy is also mentioned in the history of art as the birthplace of impressionism and you can see the UNESCO listed Bayeux Tapestry. Last, but not least, it also has a very famous natural attraction with the cliffs of Etretat offering breathtaking views. The lower region near Alençon is a lot less touristy, but a village there is nonetheless well-known across the planet, Camembert.
Camembert may be the most worldwide-famous village in Normandy. It only has a couple of hundred inhabitants, but it’s known all over the world for the cheese that was first made there in the late 18th century. If you’re interested in learning more about cheesemaking, watch the following video:
Music or documentary for your dinner
I’ve selected a documentary that will take you to a few places in Normandy and talk about various topics such as art, gastronomy, architecture and a bit of history, of course.
Normandy’s folklore isn’t as strong as the one from Brittany – the region you’d have experienced on my previous recipe. But if you don’t feel like watching a documentary, here’s a playlist of songs from Normandy while you enjoy your Camembert:
The recipe: how to make a roasted camembert
Roasted camembert, what is it about?
Le Camembert is a special cheese for French people. It might be one of the easiest cheese to find everywhere in the country. To choose the one we want to buy, we’d poke it to check how soft it is. It’s rare not to find Camembert on the cheese platter that many French families bring to the table after the main dish. It was even included in the soldiers’ rations during WWI.
Camembert is usually eaten by itself or on a piece of bread. But with minimum efforts, you can make a delicious warm dish out of it. There are many recipes for a roasted Camembert. The idea is to put something on top of the cheese and then let it melt the oven. Some describe it as a Normand alternative for the famous cheese dish from Savoie, la raclette.
Camembert de Normandie is a protected designation of origin to protect the quality and traditional recipe of the famous cheese, made from unpasteurised milk. But many camemberts are made elsewhere or with other techniques. Australia actually produces many different brands of camemberts. Their taste is often less strong, sometimes very close to the French brie. They’re nonetheless delicious when roasted.
Apples are often used in Normand dishes, but I admit that I’m not a big fan of apples in my roasted camembert, so I’ve replaced them with French shallots in the recipe.
- Camembert in a wooden box
- French shallots
- Olive oil
- Aluminium foil (just so you have it for your grocery shopping list!)
Drink suggestion with the roasted camembert
The most famous drink in Normandy is apple cider or apple juice. However, it’s not what I prefer to drink with cheese. I recommend a sweet white wine with this recipe and, of course, red wine is always a winner with cheese.
Step by step recipe
Start by turning on the oven so it warms up to 200°C. Brown the shallots in a pan and turn down the heat to add the two spoons of honey. Mix it all with the crushed walnuts.
Take the cheese out of its paper and place it into the carton box. Wrap the aluminium paper around it to prevent the cheese from running off. Cut a grid on the Camembert, place your mixture of shallots, honey and nuts. Add rosemary on top and put it in the oven. Ten minutes later, add the slices of bread and let it cook for another ten minutes (20 minutes in total).
Cut the bread into small pieces and serve the Camembert with salad as a side dish.
Did you try this roasted camembert recipe to travel to Normandy at home? Share your experience in the comments below!
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