Pelardon is a high-quality cheese of the French terroir, labeled by the Protected Designation of Origin sign. The name “Pélardon” was not officially adopted until the 19th century. Prior to then, the cheese was known by a variety of names, including Paraldon, Pelardou and Peraudou.
Pelardon is a high-quality cheese of the French terroir, labeled by the AOC sign (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée).
The Terroir and the Goats
In accordance with pastoral traditions, it is required that the Alpine, Saanen or Rove breeds of goats must graze on scrubland and healths or under the chestnut trees of the Cevennes in order to produce the milk necessary to make Pélardon cheese.
Goat herds in this area are small in size due to the sparse vegetation and arid climate of the region. To produce Pélardon under the Designation of Origin, goats have to graze for 210 days or more during the year and each farmer has to have 0.2 hectares of land per goat.
The Production Process
The milking is done twice a day and the making of Pélardon cheese is begun directly afterwards.
Ferments already existing in the lactoserum. No chemical ferments are added, except for very specific cases.
Then the farmer waits 18 hours for the molding to begin.
Pélardon is a raw milk cheese so no thermic treatment is done.
A Very Flavorful Cheese
The flavor of this round and flat, raw milk cheese recalls the stark, mountainous terrain of the Tarn. Its delicate, uniformly white interior is protected by a cream-colored rind.
Its manufacturing process has remained unchanged. The fresh curd has always been ladled by hand. The cheese is left to ripen for at least eleven days to obtain its creamy texture and its slightly nutty taste. If left to mature over a longer period, the texture becomes much more firm, even breakable, its rind darkens and the cheese acquires a more pronounced goat’s milk taste.
Accompanied by olive oil from the region and a little honey, the cheese becomes a salad in a real feast.
Today, three-quarters of all Pélardon produced in the region are traditional farm-made cheeses.
Time to Eat: a Good Recipe with Pélardon Cheese
- 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
- 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
- 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 2 Pélardon cheeses
- 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
- 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the points of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border. Cut the other Pélardon into very small bites and add it inside.
Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of Pélardon on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm