Hailed as the king of Swedish cheeses, Västerbottensost is equivalent to a sharp, aged Parmesan or cheddar and said to be mistakenly invented in 1872 by a dairy maid, Ulrika Eleonora Lindström, who left the curds unstirred, distracted by a romantic encounter. The neglected cheese was considered a failure until its unique flavour was discovered. Here, we’ve mixed the cheese with crab in this indulgent gratin.
- 80 g butter, chopped
- 1 small leek, white part only, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp chopped thyme, plus extra, to serve
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) dry white wine
- 50 g (⅓ cup) plain flour
- 125 ml (½ cup) milk
- 125 ml pouring cream
- 185 ml (¾ cup) fish stock
- 700 g cooked crab meat (see Note)
- 50 g (½ cup) finely grated Västerbottensost (see Note) or Parmesan
- 12 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat grill to high and grease base and sides of a 1.25 litre-capacity shallow ovenproof dish. Melt butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek, garlic and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until leek is soft. Stir in wine and cook for 2 minutes or until reduced by three-quarters.
Scatter over flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until flour is well incorporated and smooth. Gradually whisk in milk, cream and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until flour is cooked out and mixture has thickened.
Fold in crab meat and cheese. Pour into prepared ovenproof dish and top with anchovy fillets. Grill for 12 minutes or until gratin is golden. Scatter with extra thyme and serve immediately.
• Good-quality frozen Australian crabmeat is available from select supermarkets and fishmongers. Check carefully for any shell and cartilage and drain well.
• Västerbottensost is a traditional Swedish salty aged cow’s milk cheese and is available from Swedish food shops. Substitute with parmesan.
Photography by Chris Chen. Food preparation by Phoebe Wood. Food styling by Justine Poole.
As seen in Feast magazine, August 2014, Issue 34. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.