BAKED VACHERIN MONT D’OR

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So, I’ve been away for an age. I found myself in the UAE, shuttling between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, serving up what skills I have as TV producer to the good people of the GCC. Cooking was involved of course and in what little spare time I had, a modest amount of eating. I was going to blog, but seriously, who would have been interested in where I had my tea on my Jack Jones in the UAE? So, I’ll give an honourable mention to Spice Mela at the Rosewood, Abu Dhabi for superb Indian food one particularly lonely lunchtime and leave it at that…

So home at last and with a couple of weeks of festivities and over-indulgence I’ve not yet opted for the ‘detox’ option and frankly won’t bother. Instead, in view of it still being 48 hours shy of 12th night, I’ve liberated the Vacherin Mont d’Or from the fridge. Hopefully I’ll get rid of the smell by Easter. But odiferous as this ripening Frisbee of whiffiness is, my goodness it is worth it.

I had planned on serving it up tomorrow as the cheese course for a Sunday lunch with friends. But illness has felled them so it’s up to me alone to try and do it justice. So with the rain and wind lashing outside, it seemed only sensible to turn on my oven for the first time in 4 months and bake it.

There’s something so seductive about the unctuousness found inside a molten Vacherin. The manly funk and creamy consistency must surely put it up there with oysters and asparagus for aphrodisiac qualities. But even alone, it is curiously satisfying, particularly served with the salty/sour foils of some Trealy Farm charcuterie, my Mum’s New Year ham and cornichons.

The recipe such as it is, is a classic except for the use of my favourite herby vermouth Noilly Prat instead of the traditional dousing with white wine. I like the think the herbiness compliments the Alpine grasses those beautiful Montbéliarde cows munch on over the summer.

Being a seasonal cheese, this is a recipe that you can only make in the winter and it’s all the more joyous for that. So what’s stopping you? Don’t tell me you’re detoxing? Pffftttt.

Serves 1 greedy/2 normal people as a supper

Ingredients

  • 1 small Vacherin Mont d’Or
  • A few springs of soft thyme
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 tbsp of Noilly Prat or white wine

To serve:

  • A few boiled new potatoes, Charlotte or Ratte if possible
  • Cornichons
  • Charcuterie – cured and cooked ideally

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Take the lid off the cheese and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Using a sharp knife poke slits into the top of the Vacherin; About 6 should do it.
  4. Into each slit place a sprig or two of thyme and a sliver of garlic.
  5. Drizzle over the vermouth or wine and a few more thyme leaves.
  6. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the top just starts to brown.
  7. Serve with the potatoes, cornichons and charcuterie… and a large glass of decent wine.