Seafood gratin with caramelised apples
The smell of cheese in many decent restaurants in France is what differentiates them from similar restaurants in the UK. In this recipe, it will be the smell of the bubbling emmental cheese on the seafood gratin. I thought the accompanying caramelised apple might be a bit too ‘Normande’ for foreign consumption but it was actually really nice.
- 450ml/16fl oz fish stock (see tip)
- 400g/14oz white fish fillets (such as cod), skinned and cut into 2cm/¾in pieces
- 200g/7oz scallops, removed from the shell and cleaned
- 400g/14oz raw prawns, peeled and deveined
- 50ml/2fl oz white wine
- 150ml/5fl oz full-fat milk
- 100ml/3½fl oz double cream
- 50g/1¾oz butter, plus extra for greasing
- 2 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways and sliced
- 50g/1¾oz plain flour
- small handful fresh flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 80g/2¾oz emmental cheese, grated
- 50g/1¾oz panko breadcrumbs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- crusty bread, cut into chunks, to serve
For the caramelised apples
For the gratin, bring the stock to a simmer in a large saucepan. Add the fish and poach for 1 minute. Add the scallops and poach for another minute. Add the prawns and poach for a final minute. Remove all the seafood with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the wine, bring to the boil and reduce for 5 minutes. Then add the milk and cream and reduce to a simmer.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in another large saucepan, add the leeks and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the flour, stir well and then add the milk and stock mixture, a ladleful at a time. Keep stirring until all the liquid is incorporated and the sauce is smooth with no lumps. Bring the sauce to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes. Preheat the grill to high.
Grease six shallow ovenproof gratin dishes or one large baking dish measuring about 30x25cm/12x10in. Add the poached fish, scallops and prawns to the leek sauce and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and transfer the mixture to the gratin dishes or dish.
Mix the cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top of the gratin. Place under the hot grill for 10 minutes until golden-brown and the contents is bubbling.
For the caramelised apples, melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. Add the caster sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the apple chunks and stir to coat them in the caramel. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the apples have softened and are covered in the caramel sauce.
Serve the gratin with the caramelised apples and bread on the side.
You can use ready-made fish stock for this or follow Rick Stein’s recipe for stock:
Makes about 1.2 litres/2 pints
1kg/2lb 4oz fish heads, skin and bones (use any except oily fish like mackerel, sardines, herrings or salmon)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and roughly chopped
100g/3½oz celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
100g/3½oz carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
25g/1oz button mushrooms, quartered
1 fresh thyme sprig
Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan with 2.5 litres/4½ pints water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain.
Serve with peas or other green vegetables instead of the caramelised apples if you prefer.