This wonderful salad is to be found on most menus in France and there are as many variations as there are restaurants serving this salad. I went on a quest last summer to try as many Salade de chèvre chaud as I could, in order to try and re-create a favourite one.
Goats cheese has been made for thousands of years and was probably one of the earliest made dairy products. In the most simple form, goat cheese is made by allowing raw milk to naturally curdle, and then draining and pressing the curds. Other techniques use an acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice) or rennet to coagulate the milk. Soft goat cheeses are made in kitchens all over the world, with cooks hanging bundles of cheesecloth filled with curds in the warm kitchen for several days to drain and cure. If the cheese is to be aged, it is often brined so it will form a rind, and then stored in a cool cheese cave for several months to cure.
There are also many different types and qualities of goats cheese produced in France, especially in the Loire Valley and Poitou, where goats are said to have been brought by the Moors in the 8th century. some examples of French chèvres include Bucheron, Chablis, Chavroux, Clochette, Crottin de Chavignol – the largest produced goat cheese AOC. Montrachet from Burgundy Pélardon, Pouligny, Rocamadour, Sainte Maure de Touraine…to name a few – source Wikipedia
My Goats Cheese Salad
This is a very simple recipe and it is all about the flavours and quality of your ingredients. So buy the best goats cheese you can. I haven’t put precise ingredients for the salad as this depends on whether it is a main course or a starter.
Goats cheese – preferably the log shape -enough for 2 – 3 slices per person
slices of baguette – pain de Campagne has good flavour 2 – 3 slices per person
Jambon cru de Savoie – 2 slices per person (this is dry cured ham from the Rhone Alps region – you can use Parma ham or prosciutto)
Pine nuts – toasted
Mixed lettuce leaves including rocket leaves
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons of runny honey
1 clove garlic crushed
crushed pink peppercorns
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Make the salad dressing first, putting all the ingredients apart from the oil into a jug (or a small food processor) and then slowly whisk in the oil to create an emulsion. Leave this to one side for the flavours to infuse, whilst you prepare your salad.
2. Toast the pine nuts in a dry hot pan over a medium/high heat – don’t leave them alone as they brown fairly quickly!
3. Next fry the slices of jambon cru again in a dry pan until crisp and leave to drain on some kitchen paper.
4. Slice your baguette and toast on one side only under the grill. Then place your sliced goats cheese on the untoasted side and place under the grill to warm, melt and brown a little.
5. Assemble the salad in large bowls first putting in the washed, mixed lettuce leaves, place your goats cheese toasts on the bed of lettuce, then sprinkle with the cranberries and toasted pine nuts and arrange shards of the crispy jambon cru around the salad. Finally pour the dressing over the salad and enjoy…Bon Appétit!
All photos ©Copyright Caro Blackwell