Brie de Meaux is the benchmark of authentic Brie production and the Dongé (pronounced Don-jay) family recipe is widely considered the best.
The cheese takes its name from the small town where it was created more than 400 years ago; Meaux (pronounced Mo) in the region of Brie – just an hour east of Paris. The proximity to the French capital has undoubtedly helped it to achieve ‘local’ cheese status and popularity amongst Parisians. In 1980, it was granted AOC protection guaranteeing its production origin, its name and the exclusive use of raw milk. Sadly, Australian authorities prohibit this raw milk style and so the Dongé family have created a solution: Brie Dongé.
Dongé collects milk from a small farming cooperative of dairies within 30km of their family-owned fromagerie. Drawing on their 90 years of cheese making expertise, Dongé has adapted their recipe using pasteurised milk, producing a cheese that captures the raw-milk flavour of their award-winning wheels.
A secret mix of cultures is used to develop flavour in the curd which is then cut into small cubes before being hand-ladled into large moulds, with nearly 25 litres of milk needed to create just one 3kg wheel. Over 24 hours, the natural weight of the curd releases enough moisture so that a wheel is formed. They are carefully removed from the moulds and a generous dose of salt is rubbed on the surface before maturation of 4 – 8 weeks in Dongé’s cellars during which time they will be turned twice each week.
A thin, pencillium candidum rind develops, as well as traditional raw milk flavours of mushroom and butter. For those who like their Brie fully ripe, look for a reddish brown streaks on the rind.
Whilst ‘Brie’ has become a generic term in many places, used to describe any kind of surface-ripened, white mould cheese – Brie Dongé captures the authentic provenance, flavour and texture of the real thing.