Monday 5 August 2013

Gougeres filled with chicken salad

Don't be fooled by its fancy name. I know the name sounds quite a mouthful but Gougeres are nothing but a French style of savory pastry made from choux pastry mixed with cheese. Yes, this is the same pastry, only savory, used to make those melt-in-the-mouth cream eclairs and profiteroles, which I still can't resist if put before me. The secret of making this pastry wonderfully light and airy is generally mixing of the eggs nicely into the dough one at a time, until each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Also these Gougeres freeze well. So you can make a few extra, cool them completely, cover them with a plastic wrap and freeze them until firm. Possibilities for filling are limitless right from chicken to fish to mushrooms to spinach. I leave that too your fancy. Serve them without a filling and they can be an excellent alternative to dinner rolls. I love serving them as appetizers - warm, cheesy and just the perfect size to pop into your mouths.
Ingredients - (This recipe has been loosely adapted from Michael Roux's Choux Pastry)
125ml milk
125ml water
100g butter diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
150g plain flour
4 eggs
eggwash (1 yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water)
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 cup grated cheese
Combine milk, water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and beat over low heat.
Bring to a boil and immediately take the pan off the heat.
Shower the flour in and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon till thoroughly mixed and completely smooth. (Don't worry if the batter separates and looks curdled at first. Keep beating, and it will come together nicely.)
Return the pan to medium heat and stir continuously for about 1 minute to dry out the paste and then tip it into a bowl.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating with the wooden spoon making sure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next egg.
Once the eggs are all incorporated, the paste should be smooth and shiny with a thick ribbon consistency. Stir in the chili flakes, dried oregano and the grated cheese and stir till mixed well.
It is now ready for use.
Put the paste in small piping bags fitted with 1 cm nozzle - I just used a spoon to drop the paste into a baking tray.
Pipe small mounds in staggered rows onto a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper.
Brush the choux pastry lightly with egg wash.
Bake at 180C for 15-20 min till the outside of the bun is dry and crisp but the inside is still soft.
cool on a wire rack.
For the Filling:
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp onions, finely chopped
1 tsp mustard sauce
3 tbsp pineapple, finely chopped
2 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped.
To Assemble:
Mix all the ingredients for the filling together.
With a serrated knife cut each of the gourgeres in half lengthwise (I was a little impatient and just poked a hole on the top. I think I will be more meticulous next time for a neater look).
Fill each one with a spoon of the chicken filling.
Serve immediately.

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