The students of Semur-en-Auxois, France share another culinary part of their rich culture in this most recent installment of Global Potluck, a global forum for students around the world to connect with each other and share about their cultures through food.
What is Epoisses?
Epoisses has two meanings: it is the name of a French town, as well as a type of cheese from the region where we live: Burgundy. In fact, the cheese comes from, and is therefore named after, the town of Epoisses.
It is a soft, washed rind (meaning that it is periodically rinsed) cheese made with whole cow’s milk. The cheese is known for its orange color, soft texture, and very strong aroma.
How is it made?
Like many other cheeses, Epoisses originated as a way to preserve milk before it spoiled. This initial process of cheese making has two basic ingredients: milk (cow, goat, sheet, buffalo…) and rennet. Rennet is an enzyme that causes milk separate into liquid and solid forms.
Once rennet is added and the milk separates, the liquid (also known as “whey”) is drained from the solids (also known as “curds”). These curds are eventually formed into different cheeses. To accomplish this, the curds are separated into individual molds, and then firmly pressed to remove any remaining whey. Next, they are placed in temperature and humidity-monitored environments to be salted, and/or washed (with salt water, beer, wine, spirits, etc.), and/or turned periodically over a certain amount of time. These factors largely determine the type of cheese that is made.
There are an estimated 400 to 1000 different types of cheese in France!
How is it eaten?
In general, cheese plays a very important role in traditional French food culture. It is oftentimes eaten as part of a daily meal and is respected as a culinary art form.
Epoisses, specifically, is usually eaten after it has been washed (twice a week) and aged for at least four weeks. After this period, it can be eaten alone, with bread, or sometimes as an ingredient in another dish. We want to share a recipe for quiche à l’Epoisses…but first, some poetry!
Quiche à l’Epoisses
By: Students in Semur-en-Auxois, France
Pour la classe
Piecrust (we used one that was already prepared!):
100 g butter, at room temperature
200 g flour
a little water
1 wheel of Epoisses
4 teaspoons heavy cream
your choice of grated cheese
salt & pepper
To prepare the piecrust, preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C). Add the ingredients to a large bowl and (either with a stand or hand mixer) and mix until incorporated into a piecrust dough.
Roll out the dough and place inside a pie pan. Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes.
While the crust bakes, mix the eggs in a bowl. Add the cream, nutmeg (according to personal preference), salt, and pepper.
When the crust has finished, cut the Epoisses into thin slices and add to the pie pan with the crust. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the Epoisses slices. Sprinkle the grated cheese on the surface.
Bake the quiche for 45 to 50 minutes at 390°F (200°C).