Ça me manque depuis 15 ans
January 22, 2013 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Teach me how to make Cancoillotte cheese from things I can buy in an American supermarket or (unlikely) where to buy it for shipment to the USA (Nebraska).

Back in college, I studied for a semester in Besançon, Franche-Comté, France. Among my fond food memories are a couple of cheeses: Comté, which is readily available in a couple of local stores, and Cancoillotte which is not.

Google has explained to me that milk is made into metton and that metton is made into Cancoillotte by melting with butter and liquid such as white wine or water, but I'm quite unclear about how metton is made and I never saw or handled any while in France to know what it is. (In English, wikipedia calls metton 'runny' but cites a French description which says it has a 'pâte dure' which sounds anything but… it is Cancoillotte which is runny)

You may assume I do OK in the kitchen (including very limited experience helping make yogurt once or twice), but please do not assume I can read a recipe in French to save my life.
posted by jepler to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can order it here for shipment to the US.

I couldn't figure out for the life of me what "metton" was and all the French recipes I saw started with buying it, so no insight there. Everyone seems to melt or soak the metton as the first step of the French recipes, so it may well be dure.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:43 PM on January 22, 2013

Have you ever made cheese before? I'd start with ricotta or chevre and see if you enjoy it.

Most of the interesting French cheeses depend a lot on specific local bacteria to taste the way they taste. If it's even possible to recreate what you want, it's certainly not an entry level thing.

Wikipedia describes metton as a runny French cheese. So the recipes you're finding aren't cheesemaking recipes, they're sort of like fondue recipes (e.g. how to process a cheese into something slightly more interesting). They're telling you to go buy this one particular type of cheese, then to cook it with butter and wine.
posted by Sara C. at 5:48 PM on January 22, 2013

Also, re "how metton is made", my guess, going solely on the description "runny cheese" is that it's made by using rennet to curdle milk. The curds are then formed into the raw cheese, which has a bacterial culture agent added to it. After which it's probably aged for a certain amount of time in a cave or cave-like conditions. But I'd have to taste it or at least see a picture to be sure.
posted by Sara C. at 5:52 PM on January 22, 2013

Sidhedevil, I hope you'll come back and fix your URL!
posted by jepler at 5:57 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Whoops, sorry about that. http://www.fromages.com/en/fromage/231-cancoillotte
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:59 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Metton is a kind of clabber, a naturally curdled (and somewhat fermented) raw skimmed milk cheese, so no rennet. Here's a rough description of the process, and an eGullet thread. In the absence of raw milk, you could try pushing cultured buttermilk to a curdle and letting it sit at room temperature, and see what you end up with after you strain off the whey.

I sometimes make cheese, but I am not your cheesemaker, and this is not cheese-making advice.
posted by holgate at 6:07 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thanks Sidhedevil, I've just ordered a few pots of cancoillotte at those rather frightening prices. Also, fromage.com's description of the process is better than many I've read. (I'm also a bit embarassed that I didn't find this site before posting! I think I was sure I had checked before and seen either that they didn't have cancoillotte or didn't ship to the states)

Sara, the closest I've come to cheesemaking is the above-mentioned yogurt making. I'm willing to give it a try, though, for this product. It's harder to get excited about making ricotta (which I seldom eat) or chevre (which we have frequently from a wonderful local maker). Though while we're on the generic topic, I've also been told paneer is easy to make from scratch and better than the frozen item from the indian store—any thoughts on that?

I could come up with raw milk from a local farm if it's a requirement to make the metton for cancoillotte. And I feel like I'm starting to understand bits and pieces of the process—I just wish I had an actual recipe to follow rather than a bunch of (sometimes contradictory) descriptions or snippets of the process.

I also understand that I'm unlikely to get the exact product because of its terroir but it seems like I should be able to come closer than any product I can buy in a supermarket, as there don't seem to be any standard american cheese products that are remotely like cancoillotte (am I overlooking something?)
posted by jepler at 6:26 PM on January 22, 2013

Paneer is very easy to make -- it's really the same as a ricotta* recipe, with one added step (hanging or weighting the cheese in order to squeeze out most of moisture).

That said, it sounds like making metton is a totally different process from the cheesemaking approaches I know. Refer to Holgate's advice rather than mine -- she definitely knows what she's talking about regarding this specific cheese, where all I really know is how to make simple cheeses like paneer and mozzarella, and How Cheese Is Made in general.

* A whole milk Cheesemaking 101 ricotta, not a whey ricotta.
posted by Sara C. at 7:03 PM on January 22, 2013

Here's another description of the process behind metton. All signs seem to point to clabber being a necessary intermediate step in obtaining something with the properties of metton, and unpasteurized milk is the necessary starting point for that. Let us know how it goes if you do try to make some. (And, if you don't, definitely follow the very simple process for making fresh cheese like paneer, because it's highly rewarding.)
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:32 PM on January 22, 2013

Here's a thread on clabber-based cheeses. To summarise: it won't turn properly unless you have raw milk, but at a pinch, you can add cultured buttermilk as a starter.

The cows of the Jura and Comté are pretty happy grass-munchers whose milk is specifically valued for cheese, so that's probably the hardest thing to replicate.
posted by holgate at 8:07 PM on January 22, 2013

Found this article through a forum. Tells how it's made, but no recipe.
From reading, using raw (French) milk, and French butter, anything made in the states would be a disappointment.
posted by JABof72 at 10:43 PM on January 22, 2013

While I fully intend to try my hand at cheesemaking, I now have 5 pots of cancoillotte in-hand thanks to Sidhedevil, for which much thanks.
posted by jepler at 9:45 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

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