My family lived in France in the seventies and eighties and I lived there also, finishing up high school. We lived in a town, Melun, famous for one thing: its Brie cheese.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, there was an open-air marché and I would often go there with my mother to shop for food. We would buy Brieevery week. The big question was: which Brie?
You see, there was a neighboring town, Meaux, which also was famous for its Brie, and it too sold at the marché.
Brie de Meaux was sold in big wheels that would be cut by the cheese-merchant into segments; so was Brie de Melun. I favored the Brie de Melun, mostly out of loyalty to my town.
Brie de Melun was supposed to be the oldest cheese made in France, produced even prior to the Roman occupation of the country; however, Brie de Meaux was supposed to have been liked by Charlemagne.
The question of which Brie to buy that week was at the forefront of our marché discussions.
After moving to America, I promptly forgot about this dilemma and concerned myself with other more pressing matters; I never imagined that Brie cheese would become so popular in the US, almost a household cheese item now!
This herewith is a small appetizer that I concocted last night, with a one or two-person-size wheel of Brie found at my local supermarket, a Tempranillo wine jelly (paste) that I made in 5 minutes, and a few sheets of Phyllo.
- 1 (or several) small wheels of Brie cheese
- 2 sheets of Phyllo dough, defrosted; if making more, figure on two sheets per pot-pie
- clarified butter, as needed (butter melted in a jar with a brush)
For the wine jelly (paste):
- 1 cup (8 ounces) of wine of your choice (I used a Tempranillo)
- 3/4 cup of white sugar
- 1 tablespoon of grape molasses (optional)
- 3 heaping tablespoons of wheat or corn starch, diluted in 1/4 cup of water
- Prepare the wine jelly (paste) first, even a day ahead if possible. Pour the wine in a saucepan, add the sugar, grape molasses if using, and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
- Dissolve the cornstarch (I used wheat starch, same thing) in water and when the wine mixture starts steaming, add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens a couple of minutes later.
- Pour through a sieve into a bowl and let it cool at room temperature. Store in the fridge.
When ready to assemble the Brie pot-pie:
- Butter the pot with a brush or spray with butter. Using a flat work surface, unroll two sheets of Phyllo, buttering them lightly with a brush; place the Brie in the middle, removing all visible rind, front and back and all around. Keep the rind on the Brie if you like it better with it!
- Place a good dollop on wine jelly (paste) on top of the cheese; gather the sheets of phyllo over the cheese and jelly, forming a crest in the middle. Either leave as is, or tie with a piece of kitchen twine.
- Bake in a preheated 400F (200 C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until the pie is golden-brown. Serve warm, preferably.
TIP: Sometimes the wine jelly (paste) does not thicken enough; it is OK to add more starch, starting with one tablespoon diluted in a bit of water and whisk in the mixture stirring for one minute or so, until it thickens sufficiently.
I used a small 4 1/2 inch ovenproof soup bowl for the Brie pot-pie.
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