Warm Baked Goat Cheese

cheese plate

It’s funny, because some people get the impression that I don’t like where I live. Which is kind of strange, because I don’t understand why anyone would think that I’d live somewhere where there was a dearth of clothes dryers if I didn’t like it. And if you saw the paperwork that I have to fill out just to stay here, well, let’s just say that one really has to want to live here to plow through it all.

I’ve read a lot of books extolling what a glorious place Paris is, with tales of skipping along Left Bank streets, happily shopping for new shoes whenever the mood strikes, and resting in one of those cafés on the boulevard St. Germain sipping a $7 coffee.

They certainly paint a rosy view of the city. But then I realized something: The authors of those books no longer live here.

Like all cities, Paris is a real place. A lot of people understandably come here looking for old bistros and quaint cafés, often to find those kinds of place disappearing, or disappointing. Then they’ll step into La Maison du Chocolate, take a bite of a Rigoletto Noir, filled with caramelized butter mousse, and realize that life doesn’t get any better than that.

Sometimes I’ll be riding my bike around at night by the Seine, under the softly-glowing lights. I’ll look around, and think, “Paris is breaktakingly beautiful.” Other times, I’ll scratch my head when the bank tells me they have no change that day. Or stare at the pile of paperwork that’s arrived in the mail, filled with endless forms that need to be filled out, and think, “Can someone remind me why I moved here?”

Anyhow, I still live here and accept that like anywhere, Paris is a real city with its flaws and its fabulousness.


And one of the most fabulous things about Paris are the fromageries. I love, love, love the cheese shops and my dream has always been to work in one. (Although after my experience working at the fish market, l might want to rethink that.)

comté

Each time I visit a fromagerie, I see something new on the straw-lined shelf, and can’t help bringing home a wonderful specimen of cheese. Money or matière grasse (fat percentage) is no object.

There’s a new book out, Au Revoir to All That, about the decline of French cuisine. I haven’t read it, but I listened to an interview with the author who said that at this point, less than 10% of the cheeses in France were made from raw milk.

Considering a lot of people buy their cheese at the supermarket, where you can get decent cheese (along with the factory-produced stuff), I wouldn’t doubt it. Still, it’s not all that hard to find great raw-milk cheeses, like Brie de Meaux and Camembert du Normandie if you visit your local cheese shop.

slicing cheese

Back in the states, you can also find great cheese, although it can take a bit more looking around. Happily, at most supermarkets you can find a very decent cheddar and goat cheese seems to be becoming more common in well-stocked grocers across the land.

unbaked goat cheese

One of my favorite ways to serve goat cheese is the way we did it back when I worked at Chez Panisse; marinated in olive oil, coated with good-quality bread crumbs, then baked in a toaster oven. We used Acme levain bread. If I’m by myself, I’ll often buy a small crottin de chèvre and toast that up for a nice lunch. “Crottin” means “crap” in French, and the rounded pellets of cheese are meant to resemble goat droppings. So while this may seem unappetizing you to, one taste of the semi-melted cheese will remove any connection to anything crappy. In fact, it’s pretty wonderful, like Paris so often is.

baked goat salad

Baked Goat Cheese

This isn’t a strict recipe, but a technique, and can be made with any size goat cheese. It’s best to select one that’s fresh and soft, without a firm rind.

I use sourdough (levain) bread crumbs made from stale bread but you can certainly use what’s available where you are, as long as they’re from a sturdy loaf. If you buy breadcrumbs that are already toasted, simply mix them with the seasoning ingredients and skip the toasting in the oven. Some people use finely-chopped hazelnuts in place of some of the breadcrumbs.

Leftover breadcrumbs can be stored in the freezer, or strewn over whole-wheat pasta tossed with greens cooked with garlic and red chile flakes.

1. Cut you goat cheese into disks about 3/4-inch (2cm) thick. You can use anything from small crottins to a larger cheese, slicing it in half across the equator. Marinate the disks in olive oil, which can be done up to two days in advance. If done in advance, I like to add some herbs, such as fresh rosemary and thyme, as well as some black pepper, and let them rest in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375F (180C).

2. Mix together fresh bread crumbs (for four servings, about 1/2 cup, 60g) with a generous pinch of sea salt, and just enough olive oil to moisten the crumbs, about 1 to 2 teaspoons.

3. Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and cook the crumbs until golden brown and crispy, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring a few times during baking.

4. Once toasted, let cool and mix in 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon chopped parsley.

5. Brush the goat cheese rounds with olive oil. (Unless they’ve been marinated. In which case, pluck them from the oil and let the excess drip off briefly.)

6. Dredge the goat cheese in the toasted breadcrumb mixture until they’re completely coated and bake on a cookie sheet or in a gratin dish, either non-stick or lightly-greased, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until warmed through and soft when you press gently in the center.

7. Remove from over and use a spatula to lift the goat cheese rounds from the pan.

Serve with a green salad (dressed with hazelnut oil is great), and thin slices of toasted levain (sourdough) bread, a favorite crisp bread, or crackers. This also makes a great appetizer.

Where To Get Fresh Goat Cheese

In the United States, you can almost always find great goat cheese at your local farmer’s market, natural food stores, and at well-stocked supermarkets no matter where you live. Laura Chenel’s Taupinière is one that works very well, and Redwood Hill and Vermont Butter & Cheese are two producers who ship.

Other goat cheese producers in America include; Belle Chèvre (Alabama), Cypress Grove (Californian), Rollingstone Chèvre (Idaho), Capriole (Indiana), York Hill Farm (Massachusettes, Westfield Farm (Massachusettes), Dancing Wind Farms (Minnesota), Coach Farm (New York), and Northern Prarie (Texas).

Check websites for shipping information.

Two of my Favorite Guides to Cheese

Steve Jenkins Cheese Primer: A highly-opinionated guide by one of America’s best cheese experts. This encyclopedia covers cheeses from around the world.

French Cheeses: A terrific identification guide to a wide majority of the French cheeses, with outstanding photographs and descriptions.

125 comments

  • David, I thought I’d mention to you that I just encountered a pop-up ad on your site for the first time. There was ukele music and the ad was for Febreze (odor remover) – very odd, all in all, but especially on top of a post for such glorious-sounding baked goat cheese – (which I am looking forward to making once the thermometer dips to a more civilized temperature here in NYC).

    Thanks for the heads-up and my apologies. I don’t see (or hear) the ads that run in the states but I’ll shoot them a message to remove those ads as soon as they can. Once again, my apologies and thanks for bringing it to my attention. -dl

  • Haha, that’s funny, a little dog pops up on my screen and hawaiian tropical music starts playing for febreze pet odor. Maybe they read your book about scraping dog poo off your shoes.

  • Over 100 comments on a blog about warm cheese. Just proves that DL is one of the most fascinating people in the universe.

  • David, thanks but no need to apologize. I wasn’t sure if you were aware of the pop-ups and just wanted to let you know.

  • You’re picture of the goat cheese does look very delicious. After reading this post and the comments, I think I should look for a good quality goat cheese to try. I’ve eaten one time when I bought it at the grocery store for my 2 yr old son and I to try. Although it smelled good, it tasted so horrible we both were gagging. But I’m the only person I know that doesn’t like it. So either I got a bad one, or my palate isn’t sophisticated enough to enjoy it. When I find a better one, I will definitely try it this way you suggested.

  • and I made the classic grammar mistake that I hate: I meant “your picture…” instead of “you’re” sorry, I had to correct it and you have no option to delete and rewrite

  • and I made the classic grammar mistake that I hate: I meant “your picture…” instead of “you’re” sorry, I had to correct it and you have no option to delete and rewrite

  • Eli, in regards to whatever the Daily Mirror says, generally the opposite is in fact true.

  • Thanks for this recipe-I have a house full of company over the next few weeks and this will be a lovely light patio dinner to enjoy with a glass of wine.

  • As a Frenchman living in the US, boy I know what you mean about filling paperwork just to be able to stay. My wife’s been without a job for months while we wait for some work permit and it keeps getting delayed.

  • dz1337: Yes, it’s amazing how odd bureaucrats can be anywhere. Last year when I went to renew my Visitor’s Visa, I asked about getting my Residence Card. The woman at immigration told me, ‘I don’t have that kind of information!’….which was kind of funny to hear, coming from someone who works in the immigration office. You’d think out of all the people, she would know!

  • I was low on foodstuffs Sunday but still was thinking about this meal. So I played w/ this recipe a bit considering my fridge and pantry limitations and made a very pleasant surprise. Which is odd, experimentation in my kitchen usually ends in failure. Anyway, I used feta and oregano but did the rest as you described. It was really tasty and my simple greens and tomatoes salad w/ red wine vinegar dressing was perfect on the side. The feta was a hot soft tangy delight. I will be baking up more cheeses in the future.

  • We want you to update your blog, too! We can read over the accents and missing letters – just blog, dammit! ;)

  • Hi – I don’t have access to great cheeses like you describe so my goat cheese crumbles easily when cut. Other than patting it into shape like I would a hamburger how do you get it to stay together? I realize that you probably don’t run into these issues, but any advice would be appreciated.

  • hi dana: It sounds like your goat cheese is slightly-aged. You can try using feta, as one of the other readers did, or contact one of the cheesemakers listed at the end of the post, who ships. Although give the feta a try, since that’s likely available closer to home.

  • This looks a bit complicated to me :S. I believe there are simpler ways of making goat cheese

    Rolling a disk of goat cheese in toasted breadcrumbs, then baking it for a few minutes seems pretty simple to me (at Chez Panisse, we made them in a toaster over!) But if you know of a simpler way to do it, I’m always interested in hearing about ways to simplify thing. Thanks! -dl

  • I can so relate to complaining about my city (NYC) while I’d probably never move out of it.

  • Yum, yum. This is one I’m definitely going to try. We have some beautiful cheeses in Savoie and the visits to the Fromagerie farms are a blast. Love the goats, cows and sheep. Even did a video about one of our more fun visits. Thanks for another great recipe. Cynthia in the French Alps

  • I’m sitting here at work wanting this so very badly. What a tease!

  • David, Thanks so much for this simple, yet delicious recipe. I made it this past weekend and my husband went bonkers over it. (I did, too!) Goat cheese is my favorite, and this recipe is our new favorite. Hek, all cheese is my favorite. I’m skeptical of anyone who doesn’t like goat cheese…what’s not to like?

  • I moved to the charming, quaint town of Coatepec in Mexico a couple of years ago. I was fortunate enough to meet a local goat farmer who lovingly delivers fresh made goat cheese to my door!! I am so making the baked goat cheese soon. Thanks for the recipe and scrummy pics :P

  • Yum! I made these and they were fantastic! I placed the cheese in the freezer for a minute before breading them. And I used Panko flakes for extra crispiness. I ate them with a beet and baby greens salad and it was to die for. However, my husband enjoyed these much more with a drizzle of honey over them.