Today, we’re going to explore the world of gourmet grilling with a simple, yet luxurious recipe that will make your taste buds dance in delight. Yes, I am talking about grilled camembert with caramelized onions.
This dish is a glorious medley of creamy, melty cheese and sweet, caramelized onions. It’s the kind of appetizer that’s going to have your guests asking for more.
Table of Contents
- The Lowdown on Camembert
- Choosing the Perfect Camembert for Grilling
- Caramelized Onions 101
- Recipe: Grilled Camembert with Caramelized Onions
- Grilling and Presentation Tips
The Lowdown on Camembert
So, what’s this camembert we’re fussing about? Camembert is a type of soft, creamy cheese that hails from France – the land that gave us the Eiffel Tower, Coco Chanel, and yes, the mouth-watering baguette. Specifically, it originally comes from the small village of Camembert in the beautiful region of Normandy.
In terms of flavor, camembert is quite the charmer. It has a delicate, buttery taste that pairs wonderfully with a wide range of foods and drinks. The texture is another story of love. When perfectly ripe, camembert is gooey and creamy in the center with a firm, edible bloomy rind on the outside.
Now imagine all that goodness melting over a hot grill… Divine, isn’t it? But not all camemberts are created equal, and choosing the right one for grilling is key. Let’s dive into that next.
Choosing the Perfect Camembert for Grilling
Finding the right camembert is a little bit like finding the perfect dance partner. It’s all about balance and harmony, and for our grilled camembert, we want a cheese that’s just right.
When it comes to size, think – not too big, not too small. Don’t get me wrong, pretty much all camemberts can be grilled, it’s more about how much you or your guests will be able to eat. Not everyone will be able to eat the whole 12-ounce wheel and dividing is not really possible as the melted insides would just flow all over the place.
If I am grilling one camembert for each person then I prefer to grill smaller wheels such as the 4 oz petite camemberts by Marin. 8 oz wheels are doable as well but the guests are not likely to eat anything else afterwards.
Alternatively, you can grill a larger wheel and give each guest a spoon and start sort of a camembert fondue party. Just tell your guests to not the rind on the sides too soon as that could end up in a cheese flood disaster.
Now, let’s talk about age. You want a camembert that’s mature, but not overly so. When it’s too ripe, the rind may start to „leak“ the cheese once you put it on the grates which is something you don’t want to happen.
Sure, the cheese is going onto the grill in a foil packet but it still ends up a messy business when you unwrap it.
So, what’s the sweet spot? Aim for a camembert that’s still a bit firm when gently pressed, especially around the edges. This is a good indicator that it’s reached the perfect maturity for grilling.
Where to buy camembert?
And where do you find this magical cheese? A good-quality grocery store or a specialty cheese shop are your best bets. Heck, nowadays, you can even buy camembert online on Amazon.
When purchasing, look for camembert that’s been stored properly, ideally in a chilled section.
And don’t be shy to ask for help! A good cheesemonger can be your best ally in finding the ideal camembert.
Caramelized Onions 101
Now that we’re all bonafide camembert connoisseurs, let’s turn our attention to its partner in crime in this recipe – the caramelized onions. These sweet, savory delights are the perfect counterpoint to the rich, creamy camembert, providing a balance that will make your tastebuds sing.
First off, what does it mean to caramelize onions? Essentially, it’s a slow cooking process that coaxes out the natural sugars in the onions, giving them a sweet, rich flavor and a soft slightly sticky texture.
Pretty much any onion will work. However, yellow and white onions tend to have the best balance of sweetness and flavor. Red onions are not bad either they will make for a pop of color in your dish. I use whatever onions I have on hand.
For perfect caramelization, patience is key. You’ll want to cook your onions over low to medium heat, stirring them occasionally. This slow and steady process takes more than 30 minutes, but trust me, it’s worth it. You’ll know your onions are done when they’ve turned a deep golden brown color and are almost melting in the pan (red onions will turn dark reddish-purple with hints of golden brown).
Here’s a little pro tip for you: don’t skimp on the butter or oil. While you don’t want your onions swimming in fat, a generous amount will ensure that your onions cook evenly and achieve that luscious, caramelized goodness. Also, adding a bit of water during the cooking process can help prevent the onions from drying out too much.
Recipe: Grilled Camembert with Caramelized Onions
Alright, now that we’ve done our homework on camembert and caramelized onions, it’s time to put it all together.
Let’s talk ingredients:
- Camembert – As we’ve discussed, this is the star of the show, so choose wisely!
- Onions – These will provide a contrast to our creamy, savory camembert.
- Butter – Butter helps in the caramelization process and imparts a rich, velvety texture to the onions.
- Olive oil – I do like to mix butter and olive oil when caramelizing onions. Also used to coat the cheese before wrapping.
- Brown sugar – A pinch of this sweetens the onions, enhancing their natural sugars.
- Balsamic vinegar – This will cut through the sweetness and add a tangy balance.
- Thyme and rosemary – For a touch of earthy freshness and a beautiful garnish.
- Baguette slices or your choice of bread – To serve with our grilled camembert.
Grilled Camembert With Caramelized Onions
- Aluminum foil
- 1 Large-sized yellow onion (or 2 smaller ones)
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 1 tbsp Brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- 1 pinch Salt
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 4 to 8-ounce wheel of camembert
- 1 tsp Olive oil
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Rosemary or thyme (both dried and fresh work)
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- Baguette slices or your choice of bread
Caramelizing the onions
- Peel your onions and slice them into thin, even pieces. This will ensure they cook evenly during the caramelization process.
- Place a skillet over medium-low heat and melt the butter until it starts to foam. Add the olive oil.
- Add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt to the pan. Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally. You don't want the onions to burn! This process can take around 30 to 40 minutes.
- Once your onions have softened and turned golden, it's time to sweeten the deal. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the onions and pour in the balsamic vinegar. Give everything a good stir to ensure the onions are evenly coated.
- Cook for about 5 more minutes and then remove from heat.
Grilling the camembert
- While your onions are caramelizing, take your camembert and drizzle it with olive oil. Then, sprinkle the garlic powder and your choice of herbs or spices (I like to add rosemary and thyme) over the cheese. Don't add too much. This will add an extra layer of flavor to your dish.
- Place the camembert on a piece of foil, large enough to fold over and seal.
- Preheat your grill to medium heat. Grill the cheese for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has softened and begun to melt. Flip regularly.
- Now for the final act. Spoon your beautiful, golden caramelized onions over the grilled camembert. Top it off with a sprig of fresh thyme for a touch of earthy freshness.
- Serve your masterpiece immediately with slices of fresh baguette or your choice of bread. The warm, melted camembert paired with sweet caramelized onions is a match made in culinary heaven. Enjoy this decadent treat with your guests!
- Instead of topping the camembert with onions in the last stage, top it before you wrap it in foil. This way you won't have to reheat the onions.
- The recipe is for one camembert – adjust accordingly if cooking multiple wheels
Voila! You’ve just made a grilled camembert masterpiece! Your guests are in for a real treat. Let’s move on to a few extra tips to polish up your presentation.
Grilling and Presentation Tips
Let’s look at some nifty grilling and presentation tips that can take your grilled camembert from wow to whoa.
- Monitor your heat – Grilling is an art, and controlling your heat is crucial. Too hot, and you risk burning your cheese. Too low, and it won’t melt properly. Aim for a steady, medium heat for best results.
- Keep flipping – Although throwing the foil packet on the grates without having to think about it is tempting, it is a good idea to flip the packet from time to time. This ensures the whole inside of the cheese is melted thoroughly. There’s nothing worse than a partially grilled cheese that is still hard inside.
- Serve it right away – Grilled camembert should be enjoyed immediately. Serve it straight from the grill with your caramelized onions piled on top.
- Garnish with green – Add a dash of color to your camembert with a sprig or two of fresh herbs. Thyme works great with camembert, but rosemary or parsley can also add a nice touch.
- Bread choices – Baguette slices are a classic choice but feel free to get creative. You can try serving your grilled camembert with artisanal bread, crisp crackers, or plain old toasts.
- Add extras – Consider serving your grilled camembert with additional accompaniments like grapes, nuts, or a drizzle of honey. It’s all about creating a balance of flavors and textures.
While it may not be as popular as a rib-eye steak or brisket, grilled camembert with caramelized onions is a symphony of flavors. This dish is sure to leave your guests raving and your palate craving for more.
Stay tuned for more grilling adventures, and remember, every dish tells a story, and every flavor adds a sentence to it.
What if I can't find camembert? Can I use another type of cheese?
Absolutely! Brie is a fantastic alternative. It’s similar in texture and flavor to camembert. Just make sure to follow the same guidelines – pick a cheese that isn’t overly ripe to avoid it becoming too runny on the grill.
Can I caramelize the onions ahead of time?
Yes, you can! Caramelized onions can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat them gently before topping your grilled camembert or add them into the foil packet when you are ready to grill the cheese.
My onions are burning instead of caramelizing. What am I doing wrong?
Sounds like your heat might be too high. Remember, caramelizing onions is a slow process. Reduce the heat and let them cook gently. Patience is key!
I'm a vegetarian. Can I still enjoy this dish?
Most certainly! Just be aware that not all cheeses are 100% vegetarian as some use rennet (an enzyme found in the stomachs of animals) in production. When buying your camembert, look for versions labeled as vegetarian, or ask your cheesemonger for assistance.
Can the camembert burn?
Yes, even though the cheese wheel is usually wrapped in foil, it can indeed burn when subject to too high temperatures. Keep the temps at medium heat and flip the packet from time to time.
Dou have to wrap camembert before grilling?
You don’t have to wrap it if you don’t want to but it’s safer to do so. If you accidentally poke a hole into an unwrapped camembert wheel, you’re likely going to lose all the creamy insides and end up with burnt cheese on your grill.
Can I use a griddle to grill camembert?
Yes, you certainly can grill camembert on a Blackstone griddle or any other Blackstone griddle alternative. Again, I would advise you to use aluminum foil for wrapping and make sure to wrap the cheese in a tight packet so that it gets easily heated all the way through.
Can you make this recipe without a grill?
Yes, you can bake the camembert cheese in the oven without any issues. I am doing this when the weather is not cooperating.