Brunet is an Italian goat's milk cheese, named for an ancient breed of goat that is common to the Piedmont region. It is a soft, fresh, young cheese sold in a ruffled paper doily (like a cupcake holder). It has a tender, slightly wrinkled edible rind and a tangy flavor with a hint of earthy mushrooms, which keeps Brunet from tasting too heavy and buttery.
- Source: Goat's milk
- Origin: Italy
- Texture: Creamy
- Aged: 10 days
- Rind: Natural and edible
What Is Brunet Cheese?
This goat cheese matures for only about 10 days at the dairy and is probably still less than three weeks old by the time it reaches retail counters. The rounds of cheese can be 6 to 8 ounces, and its soft texture can vary from cakey to creamy to gooey to runny in a single piece. The supple ivory paste, or interior, smells of mushrooms and crème fraîche, and feels like silk on the tongue. A tangy finish keeps the cheese from being cloying.
How Brunet Is Made
Brunet cheese is made by Caseificio dell'Alta Langa, the makers of La Tur, another young, soft cheese. The creamery’s use of classic methods keeps them rooted in tradition, while their high food safety standards have made them incredibly reliable. The company is based in Bosia, and its name is derived from the region, the Alta Langa Piemontese, an area known for its wine and cheese.
Brunet is made of pasteurized goat's milk, which is created through thermalization, a gentler form of pasteurization where the milk is heated to a lower temperature, but for a longer amount of time than in the case of traditional pasteurization. Whereas aging is what normally promotes a cheese to develop its flavor, this pasteurization method is what gives Brunet its characteristic taste. The pasteurized milk is combined with fermenting agents, salt, and rennet, which are used to coagulate the milk. Brunet is made without any industrial equipment—only small basins—and mostly crafted by hand. The short aging time happens in a humid and ventilated cell, lasting only about 10 days.
If unable to find Brunet in your local market or cheese shop, another young, creamy goat cheese is a good substitute, although it may not have the same flavors as Brunet. Just make sure it is "fresh" or else it won't have the soft texture.
If you like Brunet, you'll also want to try La Tur, Robiola Rocchetta, and Robiola Bosina, which are all made by the cheese producer Caseificio dell'Alta Langa in the Piedmont region of Italy.
Brunet is best enjoyed as a table cheese, meaning it is eaten as is and not cooked into recipes. Because it is almost spreadable, it is ideal to cut the cheese into a slim wedge and serve on a slice of baguette or a cracker; salami, prosciutto, and other cured meats are a great accompaniment. It can be enjoyed with both red and white wine.
Brunet that hasn't been opened yet can be stored in the refrigerator (in its original packaging, as long as it is tightly sealed) for two to three weeks. Once the cheese has been opened, it should be wrapped in waxed or parchment paper and then covered with a loose layer of aluminum foil. This layered technique keeps enough moisture away from the cheese without drying it out. It is best to avoid covering the soft cheese in plastic wrap, as it will trap the moisture and encourage mold growth.
Unlike hard cheese where a spot of mold can be cut away, when there is mold found on a piece of soft cheese, the entire thing should be thrown out. Even if it doesn't look like the entire piece of cheese has gone bad, the mold spores can infect it all without showing signs.
The cheese should be eaten at room temperature to be enjoyed at its best. Remove from the refrigerator about one hour prior to serving.
Brunet is one of the more perfect cheeses for a salade au chèvre chaud (warm goat cheese salad) and is a wonderful choice for crostini and sandwiches.
- Warm Goat Cheese Salad
- Walnut, Honey, and Thyme Goat Cheese Toast
- Goat Cheese, Ham, Apple, and Arugula Sandwich
Can You Eat the Rind?
A fresh goat cheese like Brunet develops a natural rind, which means the rind is formed naturally as the air dries the outside of the cheese as it matures. Since Brunet has such a short aging time, the bloomy rind is thin and too delicate to remove. However, there is no reason to try to cut off the rind as it is entirely edible.