Comté cheese has been produced in the Massif du Jura region of France for over 1,000 years, using only organic Montbéliarde and French Simmental cows’ milk. Its production is still based on artisanal traditions, lovingly crafted in around 160 small villages that receive their Comté milk from local dairy farms located within an eight-mile radius. Once made, the cheese wheels are pre-ripened for a few weeks before being relocated to one 16 maturing cellars in the region. Here, affineurs tend to them for as little as four months or as much as 18 or more, regularly turning and salting them, and rubbing them with brine solution, which over time creates a crust, with a smooth texture and rich colour beneath.
Now that we’re enjoying some warmer weather, it’s time to dine on lighter dishes to be savoured en plein air in the sunshine. This is a recipe for a classic French soufflé made with Comté cheese, adapted by chef Jason Berthold. It utilises Comté’s nutty, sweet flavour and versatility, matching with both red and white wines – the perfect choice for entertaining. Serve them as a starter or with a salad as a main course.
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter
- ⅔ cup (3 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 6 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 6 ounces Comté, grated (about 1 ½ packed cups)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter and flour 5 8-ounce ramekins by smearing the inside of the ramekins with softened butter then coating them with a thin layer of flour. Shake off excess flour. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space between each.
- In a small saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a boil. Whisk in flour. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes (the mixture will get quite thick).
- Scrape the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth. With the blade running, add the egg yolks, one at a time, through the feed tube. Scrape down the sides and add the Comté and salt. Process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and let cool slightly.
- In the meantime, whip the egg whites to medium peaks. Fold ⅓ of the egg whites into the cheese base. Gently fold in the rest of the whites in two batches. Fill the ramekins with the soufflé batter, leaving a ½-inch rim at the top.
- Bake 17-20 minutes, or until fully risen and golden brown on top (if the top starts to get too dark before the sides are cooked, gently set a piece of foil on top of the soufflés). Serve immediately.
Recipe © Nicki Sizemore and Chef Jason Berthold
Other Comté recipes: Chicken, Leek and Comté pie