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).
Reprinted with permission from Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe. Copyright 2014. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Makes about 2 dozen
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:50 to 55 minutes
- 4 strips of thick-sliced bacon
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 1/4 cups bread flour, sifted
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 425˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp but not too dark. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, and reserve 1/4 cup of the rendered fat. When the bacon is cool, chop to make 1/2 cup.
Bring the milk, 1/2 cup water, the butter, and the reserved bacon fat to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the salt, onion powder, sugar, and cayenne. Add the flour and, using a wooden spoon, stir very quickly in one direction. The flour will quickly absorb the liquid and form a dough. Continue stirring to cook the flour (and remove its “raw” taste) and simmer off more of the moisture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, an additional minute or two.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on medium speed until each is incorporated into the dough, which will change from shiny to sticky as the eggs are worked in. On low speed, stir in 1 cup of the Parmesan and the bacon until just combined.
Using a small ice cream scoop (about 2 inches in diameter), scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Top the gougères with an equal amount of the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.