There is no doubt that Roquefort ranks (along with Brie and Camembert) as one of the three most famous fromages de la France. The name is derived from the Occitan word ròcafòrt. (Occitan is a Romance language spoken in Southern France and pockets of Italy and Spain. Rare now, Occitan, la langue d'oc, once was a strong competitor to la langue d'oïl, the dialect spoken around Paris and northern France.)
In keeping with its Occitan-derived name, Roquefort is produced in the south of France. It is an unpasteurized ewe's-milk blue-veined cheese and is one of the world's greatest blue cheeses, along with bleu d'Auvergne, Stilton and Gorgonzola. The Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (A.O.C.) law dictates that only those cheeses aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may bear the name Roquefort, as it is a recognized geographical area. Advocates for Roquefort compete with the advocates for the Italian Parmigiano Reggiano, the French Brie de Meaux and Époisses de Bourgogne, and the advocates for the English Stilton cheeses for the title "King of Cheeses".
Roquefort is white, crumbly and slightly moist, with distinctive veins of blue mold. It has a characteristic odor and flavor with a notable taste of butyric acid; the blue veins provide a sharp tang. The overall flavor sensation begins slightly mild, then becomes sweet, then smoky, fading to a salty finish. It has no rind; the exterior is edible and slightly salty. A typical wheel of Roquefort weighs between 2.5 and 3 kilograms (5 - 6 pounds), and is about 10 cm (4") thick. Each kilogram of finished cheese requires about 4.5 litres of milk making Roquefort high in protein and minerals, especially calcium - and high in fat.
Legend has it that the cheese was discovered when a young shepherd, eating his lunch of bread and ewes' milk cheese, saw a beautiful girl in the distance. Abandoning his meal in a nearby cave, he ran to meet her. When he returned a few months later, the Penicillium roqueforti mold had transformed his plain cheese into Roquefort.
Cheese similar in style to Roquefort is mentioned in literature as far back as AD 79, when Pliny the Elder remarked upon its rich flavor. In 1411 Charles VI granted a monopoly for the ripening of the cheese to the people of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon as they had been doing for centuries. Cheesemaking colanders have been discovered among the region's prehistoric relics.
In 1925 the cheese was the first recipient of France's Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée designation when the regulations controlling its production and naming were defined. A landmark ruling in 1961 by the Tribunal de Grande Instance at Millau decreed that although the method for the manufacture of the cheese could be followed across the south of France, only those whose ripening occurred in the natural caves of Mont Combalou in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon were permitted to bear the name Roquefort.
The Penicillium roqueforti mold that gives Roquefort its distinctive character is found in the soil of the local caves. Traditionally the cheesemakers extracted it by leaving bread in the caves for six to eight weeks until it was consumed by the mold. The interior of the bread was then dried to produce a powder. The mold is now typically produced in a laboratory, which allows for greater consistency. The mold may either be added to the curd, or introduced as an aerosol, through holes poked in the rind.
Roquefort is made entirely from the milk of the Lacaune, Manech and Basco-Béarnaise breeds of sheep. Prior to the A.O.C. regulations of 1925 a small amount of cows or goats milk was sometimes added.
The cheese is produced throughout the département de Aveyron and part of the nearby départements de Aude, Lozère, Gard, Hérault et Tarn. This area of France is notable for its limestone geology, which dictates what species of grass and wildflowers grow upon it, and thus influences the taste of the milk.
The largest producer, accounting for 60% of production, is la Société des Caves de Roquefort, which holds several caves and opens its facilities to tourists. They market their cheese under the label Société Roquefort. Roquefort Papillon (Butterfly) is another well-known brand. The five other producers, each holding only one cave, are: Carles, Gabriel Coulet, Fromageries occitanes, Vernières et Le Vieux Berger. Production of all brands in 2005 totaled 18,830 tons, (about three million cheeses) making Roquefort, after Comté, France's second most popular cheese.
The A.O.C. regulations that govern the production of Roquefort include:
• All milk used must be delivered at least 20 days after lambing has taken place.
• The addition of rennet must occur within 48 hours of milking.
The Penicillium roqueforti used in the production must be produced in France from the natural caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
• The salting process must be performed using dry salt.
• The whole process of maturation, cutting, packaging and refrigeration of the cheese must take place in the commune of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
As with the other parts in this series on les fromages de la France, Louis la Vache will now give you une recette, this one naturellement using Roquefort.
Poulet avec de la sauce à roquefort et à ail
Chicken with Roquefort-Garlic Sauce
9 skinless chicken pieces
9 - 12 strips bacon
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, whole
olive oil as needed
for Roquefort-Garlic sauce:
2 Tablespoons garlic puree
1 wedge roquefort cheese, crumbled
3 Tablespoons crème fraîche
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
1. Wrap skinned chicken pieces with bacon and secure with toothpicks.
2. In a large oven-proof pan with a lid, heat the garlic cloves in olive oil. (Do not brown the cloves, but heat them enough to impart their flavor into the oil.)
3. Remove garlic cloves and save.
4. Rub the chicken with salt and pepper and sear chicken in olive oil until golden brown.
5. Stir in the sliced onions and the garlic cloves.
6. Cover pan and place in 350º F (180º C) oven for 1 hour.
7. When the chicken is done, remove the pan from the oven, then remove the chicken to a dish; leave the oil and juices in the pan.
1. Heat garlic puree gently in 1/3 cup olive oil in the pan (do not brown).
2. Add the crumbled wedge of Roquefort.
3. Add the crème fraîche
3. Stir until the cheese is melted.
4. From the pan used to cook the chicken, skim the fat, and strain the pan juices of the bacon and chicken.
5. Add to the sauce and mix well while reheating.
Serve sauce with the baked chicken.
Plus de recettes en utilisant le Roquefort
Flan au Roquefort
Hamburgers avec buerre Roquefort