Skagit Food Co-op blog:

the Cheese Whisperer

The Cheese Whisperer: Marcel Petit Comté Sale

Visit the Co-op’s Cheese Island and you’ll find a French classic: Marcel Petit Comté, now on sale for $11.99 per pound. One of the most popular cheese in France, Comté is prized for its robust flavor and superb melting texture. It’s been made in the French Alps from fresh, grass-fed, raw cow’s milk for over a thousand years. Comté is a raw cow’s milk cheese with a slightly nutty, sweet and earthy flavor. It is semi-firm and is a prized melting cheese. Often featured in fondue, use Comté for making French onion soup, mac-n-cheese, and other comfort foods.

tapping comteThe story of Comté at Marcel Petit cellars begins with Master Affineur (cheese aging professional) Claude Querry, who selects the Comté at a point of ripeness where all the cheese’s beguiling flavors have come to life. Aromas of hazelnuts, fried onions and spring berries shine over an undertow of cut grass, wet earth, and straw.

For thirteen to eighteen months, thousands of large wheels of Comté sit in this carefully controlled natural environment, slowly and coolly aging in the caves at Marcel Petite Fort St. Antoine. The fort is a former subterranean army fort converted in the early 1960’s into a colossal aging cave more reminiscent of an underground cathedral than a cheese aging cellar. Sunk into the side of a hill, fortified with thick stone walls, it offers a cool, damp environment ideal for maturing cheese. Fpresided over by , achieving a more complex flavor profile than is usually associated with export Comté.

Try this recipe for enjoying Comté simply, in a baked buttery biscuit form. Serve these treats with sweet or savory accompaniments, such as fruit preserves, pickled vegetables or hearty stews.

Sables de Fromage Comté  (Comté Butter Crackers)

Recipe from hungrytravelers.com ~ Makes 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 5 Tablespoons butter cut in 1/4” cubes (pea-sized)
  • 4 oz. Comté cheese, grated
  • 5 Tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:  Place flour, salt, and pepper in bowl of food processor. Pulse briefly to mix. Add pea-sized pieces of butter and pulse several times until mixture is like coarse sand.  Add grated cheese and pulse perhaps a dozen times briefly to blend. With food processor running, dribble cream in feed tube until dough just comes together.

Remove dough to counter, divide in half, and roll each half into a log about 1 1/2” in diameter and about 4 1/2” long. Wrap in wax paper and place in freezer while pre-heating oven to 350 F. Work quickly to slice dough into 1/4” rounds. Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper or Silpat sheet, leaving about 1/2” between crackers. Bake 12 minutes, or until edges are brown and centers are firm. Remove and cool on wire rack.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.