I love goat cheese, but boucheron (sometimes spelled "bucheron") is my favorite. I got turned on to it at the Whole Foods cheese counter. The guy behind the counter suggested it and said he was so confident that we'd enjoy it that he gave me a big slice to take home and try for free. Smart move. We've been hooked ever since.
Apparently, a "bucheron" is a logger or woodcutter. In cheese form, it looks like a log. It is a mold-ripened goat cheese with one layer just inside the rind and another in the center. The outer layer is like goat cheese butter while the center is more like traditional goat cheese – a little flakier and with that distinctive tangy flavor. The Whole Foods guy gave us a tip – place a thick slice off the log into a skillet and heat it over medium heat until it's all melty goodness. That buttery layer on the outside melts and bubbles and transforms into something transcedent. I love it so much that way that I've had a hard time trying it any other way. Until now.
The 'wichcraft sandwich book by Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortuzar that I wrote about in the previous post pairs the tangy goat cheese with grapefruit and crisped Nicoise olives as an open-faced sandwich. The taste combination tickled my fancy and I wanted to try their crispy olive technique. You basically roast the olives until they turn crispy, their texture transformed into something new. (Note: in a fit of impatience, I tried them halfway through their roasting time and found them bitter and unpleasant. So I put them back in and hoped they would come back out better. And they did. So follow the cooking time and have faith.) Crispy olives rock. Their texture turns from fleshy to almost crunchy and the flavor gets softer, but more concentrated at the same time, but without any bitterness. I love the texture of these things. I want to try it with kalamatas and green olives too.
I found the large serving shown in the book to be a little awkward to eat. So I cut smaller diagonal rounds from the baguette for easier-to-handle bites. This is especially important if you're serving them as a party food.
Also, given my love for gooey, melty boucheron, I tried these with the cheese melted and also as directed with it just softened. With the grapefruit and olives, I like it better just softened. The flavor of the cheese is more pronounced that way and goes with the fruit better.
I love grapefruit. I love boucheron. And now I love crispy olives. This is a combination I never would have thought to put together, but I love it. The brightness of the grapefruit with the creamy, tanginess of the goat cheese and the salty crunch of the olives is refreshing and unexpected and lovely. Can't wait to try more from this book.
Boucheron with Grapefruit and Crispy Olives
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup pitted Nicoise olives
1/4 pound slice of Boucheron goat cheese
1 large grapefruit
8 round slices from a french baguette
1 sprig fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the olives with the olive oil in an oven-safe skillet or casserole pan. Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until crispy. Turn your exhaust fan on here, it might be a little smoky.
While the olives are roasting, take the cheese out of the fridge and let it come up to room temperature.
Cut the grapefruit into supremes. (Cut off the top and bottom. Sit the grapefruit with one of the cut ends on the counter or cutting board. One section at a time, start at the top of the fruit and cut down the side removing the peel and white pith. Do this one section at a time, rotating around the fruit until you've removed all the white and peel. Now pick up the grapefruit and hold it in your hand. Carefully, use the knife in the other hand to remove the sections of fruit from the membrane, cutting at an angle. If you'd like to see a demonstration of how to make supremes, check out Ming Tsai's tutorial here. It's a lot easier after you've seen someone do it.)
Remove any seeds from your grapefruit sections and set them aside in a bowl.
When the olives are crispy, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool. Once they've cooled, put them on a cutting board and crush them lightly with the back of your knife. You just want to smoosh them a little. Yeah, that's a technical term.
Spread your bread slices on a baking sheet and toast lightly.
When you're ready to assemble, spread the softened cheese on your bread. Top with a grapefruit section and a few crispy olives. Sprinkle with a few thyme leaves. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 little open-faced sandwiches.
Adapted from 'wichcraft by Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortuzar.