Put a spring in your step with these three recipes from Comté
As winter draws to a close and spring approaches, Comté and Laura Pope have created French twists for three tasty British dishes, using the deliciously nutty and sweet cheese.
British smoked fish pie with Comté mash
Serves 4 to 6 people.
For the pie:
- 200g cooked, shell-on prawns
- 250g sustainable smoked white fish fillet, e.g. haddock or pollock
- 175g sustainable fresh white fish fillet
- 175g sustainable salmon fillet
- 350ml whole milk
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 stick of celery, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- About 10 peppercorns
- ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves removed (keep the stalks)
- 2 large free range eggs (at room temperature)
- 25g unsalted butter
- 35g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- Salt and pepper
For the mash:
- 750g floury potatoes, e.g. Maris Piper or Desirée, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 50g unsalted butter
- 60ml whole milk, warmed but not boiled
- 100g grated Comté cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Turn the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven).
- Shell the prawns and put the shells and heads in a saucepan. Using a sharp filleting knife, skin the fish fillets and put the skins into the saucepan (these all add flavour), the milk, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf and parsley stalks (save the leaves for later). Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for half an hour.
- Make the mash: put the potatoes on to boil. Boil the eggs for 9 minutes, then plunge into cold running water. Peel them and cut into quarters. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and mash them with two thirds of the butter, all of the milk and three quarters of the cheese, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Cut the fish into 2cm cubes and mix in a bowl with the prawns and eggs.
- Make the sauce: strain the milk into a jug, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring with a sauce whisk until smooth – do not let it brown. Remove from the heat, add the milk gradually, stirring all the time to keep it smooth (if it ends up lumpy, beat it with a balloon whisk), then return to a low heat and keep stirring until it thickens slightly. Season and stir in the chopped parsley and chives.
- Add the sauce to the fish and stir gently until all the fish is coated in the sauce.
- Put the mixture into a pie dish or a few smaller dishes for individual pies, spread the mashed potato on top, make grooves in the potato with a fork, dot over the remaining butter and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Bake the fish pie for about 20 to 30 minutes (more time for one big fish pie), until the top is golden brown and it is piping hot throughout.
Creamy leek, chicken & Comté pie
Recipe serves 4.
- 1 small chicken, roasted
- 25g unsalted butter
- 1 leek, trimmed, washed, cut in half vertically then sliced finely
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 250ml whole milk
- 140ml double cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
- 100g Comté cheese, grated
- 500g pack of all butter puff pastry
- 1 free range egg, beaten
- Heat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan oven).
- Tear the chicken flesh from the bone in large chunks and discard the skin and bones.
- Heat the butter in a large pan and add the leek. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until softened and lightly coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute, before gradually adding the milk.
- Add the cream and simmer until the sauce thickens, then stir in the chicken, tarragon and Comté.
- Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin and cut 4 circles big enough to cover 4 small pie dishes (or you can do one big pie). Divide the mixture between the dishes and brush the rims with beaten egg.
- Lift the pastry on to the pie(s), trimming off any excess. Press down and crimp the edges with a fork. Cut a couple of slits in the pastry to let the steam out and brush all over with the rest of the egg.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (or 30 to 40 minutes if doing one big pie), until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.
Comté scones with fig & vanilla jam
Makes at least 8 scones.
For the jam:
- 750g ripe figs, stalks removed
- 2 vanilla pods, cut in half vertically and then in three lengthways
- 500g jam sugar
For the scones:
- 250g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 60g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 100g Comté, grated
- 1 free range egg, beaten
- 100ml whole milk
- 1 free range egg yolk, beaten
- To make your jam: turn the oven to 80°C (60°C fan oven) and put a saucer into the freezer. Wash your jam jars and lids, rinse and dry, then put the jars on their sides into the oven for 10 minutes to sterilise them. Remove the jars and leave them to cool until they are warm, but not scalding hot.
- Cut figs into eights and put them with the sugar and vanilla into a large saucepan over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and cooking gently until the sugar has dissolved and the figs are mushy. Turn up the heat and let the jam bubble for about 10 minutes. Test if the jam is at setting point by dropping a small blob on the cold saucer (from the freezer). Leave for a few seconds then push very gently with the tip of your finger - if the surface of the jam wrinkles, it is ready. Remove pan from heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.
- Stir to ensure the figs and vanilla pods are evenly distributed, then pour the hot jam into the warm jars (leave the vanilla pods in), immediately screwing a lid onto each jar – the heat will create a tight seal and help preserve the jam for 6-12 months.
- To make your scones: preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven). Mix the flour and baking powder together with a balloon whisk (to break up any lumps and aerate the flour), mix in the salt and sugar and rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gently stir in most of the grated Comté (keep a little for the topping later). Beat the egg and milk together, add to the dry ingredients and mix everything together with a cutlery knife and then one hand to bring it all into a dough. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 3cm thick and cut into circles using a 4cm diameter cutter. Place the scones onto a greased baking tray and rest again for 10 minutes.
- Brush the scones with beaten egg yolk and top with the remaining grated Comté.
- Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool.
- Best eaten freshly baked, buttered, with a slice of Comté and a dollop of fig & vanilla jam.