Last week was the new faculty reception at my library. Turnout's been lousy since the faculty realized we've dialed the catering back to wine and cheese. On one hand, that's pretty lousy since it's one of the few chances we get to pimp library services to a skeptical and indifferent audience. On the other hand, hey, free cheese.
Specifically, I liberated a big wheel of mediocre brie. I've been whittling away at it by eating it with crackers and in sandwiches with jamón ibérico and basil, but I wanted to do something more interesting with it. Not a lot of choices out there. You can bake it, of course, but the wheel was in two pieces so it would be an awkward process. Giada de Laurentis has a recipe for a brie, chocolate and basil sandwich that gets some mixed reviews. I was more interested in the pairings of brie with tart apple. I figured I could substitute in mango and get some interesting results. I was thinking of a mango, brie and bacon risotto, but I also had my eye on a brie fondue recipe and I don't think I've ever had fondue. So I thought I'd give it a try. Adapted from this recipe.)
1 Tablespoon butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 handful dried cremini mushrooms, rehydrated and finely chopped (the original recipe called for an implausibly large amount of porcinins which were sold out in the two places I looked. I used what I had and, to boost the umami, added...)
a few slices of jamón ibérico, finely chopped (although jamón serrano or prosciutto would have done fine)
1/2 somewhat underripe sweet-tart mango, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fruity but not overly sweet white wine
3/4 pound rindless brie (maybe 4/5 pound with rind), cubed
2-3 ounces goat cheese (I used Humboldt Fog, an ash-aged cheese whose fresh, slightly funky flavor nicely rounded out the brie.)
2/3 cup light cream
salt and pepper
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it stops fizzing add the shallots, garlic and ham. Sweat until the shallots are softened.
2. Stir mushrooms and mango into the mixture in the pan. Add wine and cook briefly to blend the flavors and soften mushroom and/or mango if they need it.
3. Add the cheeses and stir until they start to melt. Add the cream and continue stirring until the cheese melts into a thick sauce.
4. Remove from heat and check seasoning. I found it needed a bit of salt and pepper. Garnish generously with parsley and serve before it clots with bread for dipping. (The original recipe also suggested serving with broccoli. I didn't think it would work so well with the adjusted flavors. I did try grape tomatoes, but I didn't care for the combination.)
Not bad at all. Mostly cheesy of course, but the other flavors bring some real complexity. There are earthy notes from the mushrooms; sweet and tart from the mango emphasized by similar notes in the wine; some herbal counterpoint from the parsley. The flavors intensify as the fondue thickens so it's a balance between ideal texture and flavor that shifts as you eat which adds a bit of interest.
I just did a search and found a recipe with paired a brie fondue with a mango chutney. Not quite the same, but close enough that I don't feel entirely original. Darn.