Crispy golden brown pastry on top, flaky piecrust on the bottom, and a velvet creaminess oozing mellow flavors spiked with the porky flavor of bacon—that’s my down-on-the-bayou, French Louisiana version of a classic baked brie.
Baking a round of brie cheese in pastry has been around for decades, and I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember—doing it wrong. I used to simply take the brie out of the package, drape over a sheet of pastry dough, and bake. With all store-bought ingredients, that’s how simple this dish can be. But recently I’ve been experimenting with this dish with spectacular results.
Two friends lead me in the right direction: First off, my lodge cooking buddy Jimmy Adams is an amateur cook from Lafayette with a classic French cooking pedigree. Years ago, he cooked under the tutelage and in the kitchen of Michelin-starred Chef Paul Bocuse in his restaurant near Lyon, France. Jimmy has been making baked brie for years and he taught me the simple combination of a pie shell foundation for the brie before you drape the top with puff pasty. A double dose of crunch–piecrust underneath and crispy pastry overhead.
Next, my brie epiphany came when I recently visited the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market at the Horse Farm. I love this farm-to-table market, and you’ll see me there most every Saturday morning. It was my friend Chef Dustie Latiolais, executive chef at Crawfish Town USA with his Breaux Bridge-based Cochon Cannery line-up of products, that introduced me to my new secret Cajun recipe ingredient–Bacon Jam. Dustie is an award-winning chef that will be competing in the Louisiana Seafood Cook-off on June 20 at the Cajundome in Lafayette. He makes his Bacon Jam concoction from scratch: cured bacon, Steen’s cane syrup and vinegar, locally sourced unprocessed cane sugar, and onions. The result is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy that has become my obsession. I spread it on toast, brush it on pork chops, layer it on sandwiches, and yes, stuff it into a wheel of brie cheese. Oh yeah, Bacon Jam Baked Brie.
Brie cheese, named after a region of France, is a rich and creamy cow’s-milk cheese that doesn’t have the strong, pungent characteristics of many French kinds of cheeses. It is this lighter flavor profile that makes it the perfect candidate for adding flavor contrasts like Dustie’s bacon jam. Brie is most often sold in a circular wheel and encased in a rind of mold that is eaten right along with the cheese inside.
My new bacon-flavored Cajun recipe for baked brie brings dramatic differences that elevate this recipe to new heights. First are the dueling crusts: My brie cheese wheel sits on a base of flaky piecrust and topped with a crown of puff pastry. Next are the textural contrasts of crunchy Louisiana pecans, fresh apple slices, and crumbled bacon. Then I kick up the flavor with some of Dustie’s spicy bacon jam that surprises with a sweet porky profile of Louisiana flavors. Scooped up on a cracker, every bite of this cheesy pie ascends to new heights with a Cajun mastery of the art of the brie.
- 1 (9-inch) store-bought piecrust
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
- ½ cup pecan halves
- ½ cup crumbled bacon
- 1 (8-ounce) wheel of brie cheese, with rind
- ½ cup bacon jam
- 1 package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry sheets
- 1 beaten egg
- Sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- Place the piecrust in a baking dish or a disposable aluminum pie pan. Spread the apple slices over the bottom and place the pecans throughout to build a base foundation. Sprinkle over the crumbled bacon. Cut the wheel of brie in half through the middle, and position the bottom half over the foundation of the piecrust. Spread the center of the brie with a thick layer of bacon jam. Add the top half of the brie.
- Drape one of the puff pastry sheets over the top of the cheese and tuck in the sides along the edge of the pie pan. Cut decorative shapes (leaves, stars, etc.) from the remaining puff pastry dough and add to the top. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake in the oven until the top is golden brown and the cheese inside has melted, 40 to 60 minutes.
- Serve with crackers on the side.
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