In Paris this past January, I was leafing through a French food magazine when I spotted
a recipe for an unusual cheese fondue. Instead of the traditional version prepared with Gruyère or Emmenthal and served in a fondue pot, this interesting variation was made with a creamy French cheese called Mont d’Or. That round of cheese with its light crinkly skin was heated in the oven in the wooden box in which it was packaged, until it was melted and oozing. and then served in its container. I barely finished looking at the directions before my mouth watered!
Back home on this side of the Atlantic, I decided to substitute Camembert for Mont d’Or, since the latter is hard to find in the States. I sliced a thin layer from the top of the Camembert, and then with a sharp knife traced a cross pattern on top. Finally, I sprinkled finely minced garlic over the cheese, then drizzled it with white wine as in the original recipe. Baked in its wooden box until the cheese had melted, and was still warm, this Camembert “fondue” became the centerpiece of a winter appetizer board. Garnishes included a crusty baguette cut into cubes, roasted little red skin potatoes, sautéed slices of kielbasa, and some peppery cornichons.
Nothing could have tasted better when we tried it at our house with a couple of friends.
Everyone was anxious to spear the bread, potatoes, and sausage with bamboo skewers and then dip them into the runny, garlic-scented cheese. And, those cornichons–they balanced the rich taste of the Camembert.
Since winter seems to be endless this year, you might want to buy a box of Camembert to have on hand for the next big snow storm!
Print This Recipe
Quick Camembert “Fondue”
One 8-ounce (250 gram) Camembert in a wooden box, preferably at room temperature for 30 minutes (See note.)
2 tsp finely minced garlic
4 tsp dry white wine
8 oz (6 small) red skin potatoes, scrubbed, but not peeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 oz kielbasa, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 good quality fresh crusty baguette, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup cornichons
Wooden skewers for serving
1. Arrange a rack at center position and another at the lower position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. Remove the Camembert from its box and discard the paper enclosing it and any labels on the cheese. Save the bottom of the box, but discard the lid. With a sharp knife, cut the rind from the top of the cheese and discard. With the same knife, cut a cross pattern on top of the cheese. Sprinkle the garlic over the cheese and press down with your fingers. Then drizzle the wine over the cheese. Return cheese, garlic side up, to the box and place on the prepared baking sheet.
3. Quarter the potatoes and spread them in a small baking dish or pan. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Place the cheese on the center rack and the potatoes on the bottom one. Bake the cheese until it has melted and is very soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Watch carefully, and remove when done. Roast potatoes until golden and tender when pierced with a knife, 25 minutes or more, and remove when done.
5. While cheese is baking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the kielbasa slices 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned and drain on paper towels.
6. To serve, using a metal spatula, slide the cheese in its box onto a serving platter or board. Garnish the Camembert “fondue” with baguette cubes, roasted potatoes, kielbasa slices, and a small bowl of cornichons. Spear bread, potatoes, and kielbasa with wooden skewers and dip into the warm cheese. Sample the peppery cornichons on the side. Serves 4 to 6.
Note: Cheese and specialty food stores and some supermarkets (such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s) sell Camembert cheese packaged in a wooden box.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2019