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Donald Link's gougères in his new cookbook, Down South, are a far cry from the delicate hors d'oeuvre seen on passed appetizer trays at fancy receptions. Studded with pieces of crumbled bacon and infused with their rendered fat, these bite-sized puffs make for a seriously porky statement. Link enhances the bacon with a couple of generous handfuls of grated Parmesan—a step that adds another layer of umami and a touch of creaminess to the gougères.
Why I picked this recipe: Who could say no to bacony, cheesy puffs of dough?
What worked: Even with the additional bacon and cheese, Link's gougères still maintain the light airiness indicative of the French pastry.
What didn't: I'd recommend straining the rendered bacon fat before stirring it into the choux dough so that you don't add burnt flecks of bacon to the puffs.
Suggested tweaks: If your bacon doesn't render a full 1/4 cup of fat, you can make up for it with more butter. And if you don't have a stand mixer, you can beat the eggs into the dough by hand in the pot (remove it from the heat first).
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.