Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fromagerie Guilloteau: Florette

When someone gives you a bag of fresh porcini mushrooms, all other menu plans go out the window.

My roommate's partner has an old tree farm out by Estacada, and he's been collecting pounds and pounds of porcini lately. I had a bag of button mushrooms in the refrigerator because the cheese I was planning on writing about, the goat's-milk version of the Fromager d'Affinois type called Florette, has a lovely mushroomy-herby flavor to it, and I had been mulling over various combinations of mushrooms, apples, and sage to go along with it. When I saw the porcini, I knew exactly what to do.

Florette, and all of the other cheeses grouped under the "Fromager d'Affinois" or "Pavé d'Affinois" label, are bloomy-rind cheeses similar to Brie made of cow, sheep, or goat's milk by Fromagerie Guilloteau, which started production in 1983. They use a technique called "ultrafiltration" (or "microfiltration") which concentrates the fat and milk proteins at the beginning of the cheesemaking process, instead of in the middle. The standard method is to add the coagulant (rennet) to the raw or pasteurized milk, wait for the curd to form, then drain the whey from the curds leaving the milk solids. With the ultrafiltration method, the milk solids are separated before the coagulant is added. According to the company, this ensures that more of the nutrients and proteins are retained - twice the amount of calcium, for example, in the Pavé d'Affinois compared to Brie, and four times the protein. This method also speeds up the production process, with two weeks for ripening instead of six to eight. The company has two main facilities in the Rhône-Alpes region, the original one in Belley (just an hour away from Lake Annecy, where I worked as an au pair many years ago) and a newer one in Pélussin.

Whether you're wandering the foothills of the Cascades or the Alps, if you come across any porcini, you might want to try this recipe. To balance the richness of the cheese and mushrooms, serve with a traditional French salade de carottes râpées.

Sauteed Porcini with Fromage d'Affinois

2 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp minced fresh sage
3 to 4 fresh porcini, brushed clean
1/4 c water
4 oz Florette, sliced in half and each half split
croûtes (toasted bread rounds)

Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the garlic and sage over medium-low heat for a minute or two while you slice the mushrooms into 1/8-inch slices vertically, keeping the stem and cap attached where possible. Put the mushroom slices in the pan in one layer and saute for two minutes. Turn the mushroom slices over, add the 1/4 c water to the pan, and cover. Cook for two minutes more. Uncover the pan, flip the mushrooms over carefully, and cook for a final two minutes. Put two or three slices of toasted bread on each of two plates and divide the sauteed mushrooms between them, reserving the liquid in the pan. Top the porcini with the cheese, and drizzle the pan juices over.

Salade de Carottes Râpées

1/4 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs olive oil
3 c grated carrots
3/4 c chopped fresh parsley

Combine the honey, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil in a large bowl until well mixed. Add the carrots and toss to coat thoroughly. Add the parsley and mix well.

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