AT A GLANCE
"This is great as a stand-alone lunch dish with a keenly dressed green salad," says James Hird. "The custard is only as good as its ingredients, so use the best cream, eggs and Comté you can find. Easy enough to prepare, the dish acts pretty much like a savoury crème brûlée, it gratinates beautifully and is a fantastic partner for wine."
|01||For roasted onion powder, preheat oven to 60C or lowest setting. Gently cook onions in olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelised (20-25 minutes), then drain well on absorbent paper, spread out on an oven tray lined with baking paper and place in the oven to dry until crisp (4-6 hours; you can also use a dehydrator, which is more accurate at low temperatures). Finely grind onions to a powder in a mortar and pestle. Makes 75gm. Store in an airtight container in the pantry; it keeps for 2-3 days.|
|02||Whisk eggs and yolks in a bowl, then strain into another bowl through a fine sieve to remove the chalaza (stringy bits of the eggwhite), and set aside.|
|03||Preheat oven to 170C. Place cream and milk in a saucepan over low-medium heat until just starting to simmer, then add grated Comté and stir gently until incorporated (be careful not to overheat as the cheese will split). Add nutmeg and season to taste, then strain into whisked eggs through a fine sieve and gently stir, taking care not to over-aerate. Pour custard into a 2-litre ceramic dish (18cm square base by 5cm high), place in a roasting pan and fill with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake until custard is just set in the centre (30-35 minutes). Cool for 30 minutes.|
|04||Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté celeriac until softened (4-6 minutes), add Jersey milk and simmer until tender (15-18 minutes). Strain into a bowl, reserving milk and pressing celeriac gently to remove as much liquid as possible. Purée celeriac in a food processor and season to taste.|
|05||Divide a little purée among 6 ramekins, top with a large scoop of custard, smooth tops and place under a hot grill to caramelise (1-2 minutes).|
|06||Heat celeriac milk and froth with a stick blender. Scoop Comté custards onto plates, spoon a little frothed milk over and around custards, sprinkle with roasted onion powder and snipped chives, and serve.|
Note Garratt and Hird use master cheese affineur Hervé Mons's 18-month cave-aged Comté, available from Blackwattle Deli at the Sydney Fish Market and The Smelly Cheese Shop in Adelaide.
2011 DOMAINE DE CHASSORNEY SAINT ROMAN “COMBE BAZIN” CHARDONNAY.