Serious Eats: Recipes

French in a Flash: Parmesan and Gruyère Gougères with Jambon de Bayonne, Arugula, and Dijon-Chive Butter

"Sometimes revenge isn't sweet: It's very, very savory."

I like nothing better than a picnic. I like eating outside so much that, I admit, I sit outside on park benches munching sandwiches through trembling fingers all winter long. But when I was little, those outdoor field trip lunches were the bane of my existence! There we were, all the little girls in our class, seated on some park knoll or museum staircase, and suddenly, the sandwiches would emerge. Now, for girls who wore identical uniforms to school each morning, and who sat down at the same long lunch room tables for the same meal every afternoon, a sandwich said a lot about a girl's individual personality.

But, we all know, individual personalities are not quite the prized possession in youth that they are in adulthood. One after another, they would come out: ham and cheese, ham and cheese, ham and cheese. All on soft sandwich bread, with an orange juice box. And then, I would open what maman had packed for me. Baguette, oozing with Explorateur, or some other stinky French cheese, and a pear-and-white-grape juice box. Yum! I would take a ravenous first bite, and predictably, some girl nearby would shriek, "Ew! Your sandwich smells!"

I would look over at her flaccid lunch meat, and utter the "ew" to myself. As I frowned and switched slowly over to my juice box, I thought silently, "Yeah, well your sandwich has cooties!"

Sometimes revenge isn't sweet: It's very, very savory. This sandwich is for all my dear schoolmates, if you are still eating ham and cheese sandwiches. My version starts with homemade Parmesan and Gruyère Gougères, a cheese puff pastry specialty from Burgundy. They are light as air inside, and crisp outside—like a French biscuit. A savory version of profiteroles, they start with a basic pâte à choux, or choux pastry, the same easy pastry that, once mastered, allows you to make anything from éclairs to beignets, plus gougères and profiteroles. I spread the warm, halved airy gougères with a Dijon-Chive Butter, and layer it with sliced Jambon de Bayonne, a French prosciutto, and baby arugula. Finally, a ham and cheese sandwich worth getting cooties for!

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the The Secret Ingredient series for Serious Eats.


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