Behind the French Menu gives a tasty background to French cuisine, French dishes, how they are made and how they should be served. Where there is a story behind a dish's creation and that story may aid the diner's enjoyment then that will also be included. Bon appétit!
Morbier AOP is a rich, creamy, 45% fat cow’s milk cheese made with non-pasteurized milk. The cheese is made in the French Departments of Jura and Doubs in mountainous regions that become ski centers in the winter. An export version of the cheese made with pasteurized milk is available, and both versions are matured for a minimum of two months before being sold. The cheese is a yellow to ivory colored soft to semi-soft cheese. N.B. When you open a new Morbier cheese, you will immediately note its strong smell but “worry not” this is a rich, creamy, and tasty cheese.
The same region in the Jura that produces the Morbier AOP cheese also produces France’ fabulous Comté AOP hard, yellow, cow’s milk cheese, and from the department of Daubs comes the soft, cow’s milk cheese the Le Mont d’Or AOP also called the Vacherin du Haut-Doubs AOP
Upon seeing a Morbier cheese for the first time, the obvious point of interest is the separation of the cheese into two layers. Originally these layers were made with a thin layer of charcoal, but today it is a vegetable separation. Then separation marked two different cheeses; the lower half made with the milk from the morning milking and the upper half made with the milk from the evening milking, today that is no longer the case, but tradition is tradition. The cheese has been made for at least 300 years from when it was first recorded in the 18th century; it would become popular throughout France in the early 20th century.
Like nearly all French cheeses Morbier AOP has an important place reserved on the cheese platter, but it also has a prominent place on the local menus. The most famous Morbier cheese dish is the Morbiflette. The Morbiflette is a traditional dish, much like a Reblochonade or Tartiflette which is made with the Reblochon cheese. In a traditional Morbiflette a wedge of cheese is melted and poured over boiled potatoes, small pickled onions and smoked bacon piecesflavored with nutmeg; it makes a delicious winter dish. However, this is the traditional farmhouse Morbiflette recipe, and so, in restaurants, you may expect additions. Here are two examples:.
Morbiflette – Roesti, Morbier, Jambon de Montagne, Jambon Cru – A Morbiflette prepared with roestis, mountain ham and cured ham. (Roestis are an originally Swiss dish of grated fried potatoes; they may also be on a menu as crêpes de pomme de terre and may be described as grated potato fritters).
La Morbiflette – Gratin de Pommes de Terre, Lardons, Morbier, servi avec Charcuterie et Salade – Potatoes browned in the oven with Morbier cheese and served with bacon pieces alongside cold meats and a salad.
Galette de Maïs, Confit d’Oignons, Morbier Fondu, Salade, Jambon Cuit Fumé – A corn meal, in the USA maize flour, crepe prepared with an onion jam and smoked cooked ham covered with melted Morbier cheese.
Nem de Saucisse de Morteau et Morbier. – A spring roll containingthe Saucisse de Morteau and Morbier cheese. The Saucisse de Morteau is an AOP smoked pork salami type sausage that may be eaten without any additional cooking; nevertheless, it is often grilled or fried when made part of other dishes.
Filet Mignon au Morbier et Jambon Cru Ht Doubs – A cut from a pork tenderloin, the fillet in the UK, served with a Morbier cheese sauce and cured ham of the Haute Doubs. N.B. A French filet mignon if not preciselydescribed as a beef or veal filet mignon is always pork.
Tagliatelles Fraiches Sauce au Morbier et Saucisse de Morteau –Fresh tagliatelle pasta served with a sauce made with Morbier cheese and the Saucisse de Morteau AOP. (Tagliatelle is the long flat thin pasta, originally Italian, that may be up to 1 cm wide).
The French departments of Jura and Doubs are part of the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The departments of Jura and Daubs border Switzerland. For more about the joining together of the regions of Bourgogne, Burgundy and Franche-Comté into the super region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté along with other changes in France’s regions click here.
The weights of Morbier cheeses.
Whole Morbier cheeses weigh from 6-8 kilos (13.2 lbs – 17.6 lbs) with a half size cheese weighing 3 kilos. Even the half size cheese too large to take home for most of us so buy a half kilo (1.1 lb) or 1 kilo (2.2 lb) wedge in vacuum packaging which most serious fromageries, cheese shops, offer.
Buying Morbier cheese.
For my post on buying cheese in France and taking it home click here.
The village of Morbier
The cheese takes its name from the village of Morbier in the department of Jura in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Today the village and the communities around it have a population of just over 2,000, but not everyone in the village is making cheese, and so it is made in farms and dairies in other parts of the Jura and Daubs. Morbier is 58 km (36 miles) from Geneva, Switzerland and 96 km (60 miles) from Besançon the regional capital of Franche-Comté.
Other famous products and activities of the Jura and Doubs
The Jura in winter is one of France’s most famous skiing regions, but among France’s chefs, it is better known for its fantastic wines, sausages, and cheeses. The Jura’s wines include their Vin Jaune AOP, their yellow wine, that is matured for at least six and a half years and though it is not fortified like sherry it tastes much like a dry Fino sherry. The Jura also produces their Vin de Paille AOP, a sweet dessert wine, and their great but inexpensive sparkling Crémant du Jura AOP.
Vin Jaune Chateau-Chalon
Vin Jaune come is a distinctively shaped bottle called the clavelin.
Not forgotten is the Jura’s liquor the Macvin AOP; which is produced in a similar manner to Pineau de Charente of Cognac and Pommeau from Calvados; it is an eau-de vie mixed with a fermenting wine and drunk cold as an aperitif. The department of Doubs is also famous for its smoked Saucisse de Montbéliard a smoked pork sausage along with its even more famous cousin, with a different taste, the Saucisse de Morteau AOP pork sausage.
Morbier Cheese and Saucisse de Morteau AOP cooking.