Sunday Dinner

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Hickory-Bacon and Roasted-Corn Gougères

French Potato Salad
Mixed Greens and Vinaigrette

Here is a delicious summer spin on the classic French amuse-bouche.  These are gougères or cheese puffs.  Gougères are a savory cheese version of pâté à choux.  Here they are further enhanced with smoky bacon, sweet summer corn, and garden fresh chives.  Use a good quality extra-sharp Cheddar for the cheese and a nice pinch of cayenne pepper for a pleasing kick.  Baked until golden and crisp on the outside, but still tender and moist in the inside, these certainly are a "mouth amuser".  Big flavors in a small bite indeed.

We enjoyed these so much a few Sundays ago that I wanted take advantage of all the wonderful sweet corn in the markets right now and make them again.

Hickory-Bacon and Roasted-Corn Gougères
makes 70

* recipe can easily be halved

6 hickory-smoked bacon slices
3/4 cup corn (from 2 medium ears)
1 cup water
4 ounces (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
Pinch of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, about 5 ounces
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste 

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375º F.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, turning occasionally until brown and crisp.  Drain on paper towels, then finely chop.  Pour off fat from skillet, the carefully wipe clean with a paper towel.  Return the skillet to medium heat and add the corn, stirring occasionally until the kernels are mostly golden-brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring until butter is melted.  Add flour all at once and cook over medium heat, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and excess moisture has evaporated, about 2 minutes.  

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds to cool slightly.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  (Batter will appear to separate at first, but will then become smooth).  Mixture should be stiff enough to hold soft peaks and fall softly from the spoon.  Stir in bacon, corn, mustard, cheese, chives, black pepper, and cayenne.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip with batter and pipe about 35 mounds onto each prepared baking sheet, or spoon mounded tablespoons, 1/2-inch apart, onto each sheet.  Bake, switching positions halfway through baking, until puffed, golden, and crisp on the outside, 25 to 30 minutes total.  Serve the gougères warm.  Gougères can be made ahead and cooled completely uncovered, then chilled in sealed bags for 2 days or frozen for 1 week.  Reheat uncovered in a 350º F oven for 10 minutes if chilled and 15 minutes if frozen.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Gourmet, November 2007


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