Gougères alla Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup (4oz) (125ml) Chicken Stock
3 TB (1 oz) (28g) Unsalted Butter; Cubed
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
And your choice:
A healthy pinch of Chile powder or Cayenne Pepper
or a few turns of freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 TB (2.5 oz) (70g) AP flour
2 large Eggs
1 to 2 tsp minced fresh thyme
3.25 oz (90g) grated hard cheese; Divided
optional 1 Egg Yolk; beaten
Preheat the oven to 425F (220C.)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
Heat the Chicken Stock, Butter, Salt, and Chile or Pepper in a heavy saucepan until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to simmer.
Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, forming a smooth (almost) ball.
Continue cooking for another minute or 2, to remove any excess water, then remove from heat and let rest 2 minutes.
Move the paste to your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Turn the mixer on medium speed and begin adding eggs 1 at a time, waiting for the paste to "break" and then reform before adding the next.
Add about 3/4 of the Pecorino Romano and the Thyme, stirring until well-mixed.
Scrape the mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe the dough into little mounds onto the lined baking sheet.
Keep them evenly spaced about 2 inches apart and making the mounds slightly larger than a Cherry Tomato
You can either glaze each mound with beaten egg yolk and then top with a sprinkle of reserved P. Romano, or skip the yolk glaze and simply top with a little sprinkle of cheese.
Move the sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F (190C) and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes.
They should be completely Golden Brown and Delicious.
During the first 25 minutes of cooking (10min at 425 and the first 15min at 375) you CANNOT open the oven, if you let any heat escape quickly, the steam inside will condense back into water and they will fall.
For extra-crispy puffs, five minutes before they're done, poke the side of each puff with a sharp knife to release the steam (they should be "set" by then) and return to the oven to finish baking.
Pairs Well With
Classically Gougères are made with Gruyere cheese. A very savory cheese indeed. But since I was not going to run to the store for 1 thing, I decided to use my Pecorino Romano instead. While P. Romano is a deliciously savory cheese, it does not contain the same notes as Gruyere. I had originally thought of exchanging some of the butter for Bacon Fat, but "Chickened Out" at the last minute. Literally... I used Chicken Stock instead of plain water to give it a little more savoriness.
These can be cooled and filled, or frozen on the baking sheet in the freezer and moved to a freezer bag and stored for 2 months.
Simply rewarm them at 300 for 10-15 minutes.