I am very sorry for the delay in posts again this week! Next week’s two (yes, two) posts are going to be EPIC, but to ensure the quality of their epic-ness I’m going to need a few more days of photo-editing and writing. Rest assured, friends. It will be well worth the wait!
In the meantime it’s time for another Bonus Level! For those new to the blog, my Bonus Level recipes are essentially recipes that don’t fit any particular fandom, but are still tasty. Sometimes they might result from experimenting with something in the kitchen. Other times they may be recipe contest entries that were too good not to share despite the fact that they didn’t win.
Today’s post is one of those entries.
So Food Network had a recipe contest awhile back to “elevate the humble potato”. I was on a bit of a gougère kick at the time ever since I learned to make them in my cooking classes as Publix. So I decided to smoke some russet potatoes with hickory chips and mash them with gruyère cheese before stuffing it into this French version of the cheese puff. If you’ve always wanted to try smoking food without breaking the bank, a stovetop smoker box like this one is a really great starter option.
Choux pastry, the base of the standard gougère, is stupidly versatile and surprisingly easy to make. I’ve done all sorts of flavors including Earl Gray tea with dark chocolate ganache, and lemon lavender with honeyed goat cheese. The recipe calls for a pastry bag, though I really would recommend investing in a cake decorator gun to save your hands a lot of pain.
On top of this smokey goodness, I added some smoked salmon and diced nectarine. I really wanted emphasize and complement the flavor or the potato to make it the main star of the dish. What you get is a flaky, gooey bite of smokey sweetness that’s hard to resist.
Smoked Potato and Gruyère Gougères with Salmon and Nectarine
Equipment: Oven, stovetop smoker box, stovetop, two pastry bags with ½ inch round tip, potato masher, food processor.
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup whole milk
- Pinch of salt
- 1 stick butter, cut into tablespoons
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 ½ cup shredded gruyère cheese
- 1 ½ Tb hickory woodchips
- 1 lb russet potatoes, quartered lengthwise into wedges
- 1 Tb grapeseed oil
- 1/4 cup shredded gruyère cheese
- 1 cup milk
- 1 Tb lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 2 nectarines, small diced
- ½ cup smoked salmon, flaked
- ½ Tb grapeseed oil
- 1 Tb lemon juice
- 1 tsp honey
- Prepare smoker box with woodchips and tinfoil. Spray the grate with cooking spray and arrange potato wedges onto it, skin side down. Brush the exposed sides with grapeseed oil and season with sea salt. Shut the box and heat on a back-burner on the stovetop on medium-low to medium heat with the exhaust hood turned to high. Set a timer for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Start making the choux pastry by bringing the water, milk, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour with a rubber spatula. Reduce the heat to low and keep stirring until the dough dries and pulls away from the pan.
- Put the dough into a mixing bowl and allow to cool for a minute. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing each thoroughly into the dough with the spatula before adding another. Fold in the thyme and then the cheese.
- Transfer dough into a pastry bag and pipe tablespoon sized rounds, about two inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-22 minutes until touched with golden brown. Remove from the oven at let cool on a rack.
- Mix all ingredients for the garnish in a separate bowl and set aside.
- When the pastry has cooled, slice the tops and reserve.
- When the timer goes off. Turn off the stovetop on the smoker box and move to another burner. Open the box a little and let the smoke dissipate. Open box fully and transfer the smoked potato wedges to another bowl. Mash with a potato masher and transfer to a food processor. Pulse and add milk gradually until desired consistency. Transfer back into the bowl, stir in the cheese and lemon juice – adding more milk if needed. Stir in salt to taste.
- Transfer filling into a pastry bag and pipe filling into the pastry shells. Distribute garnish on top of the fillings, and top each puff with its pastry top. Serve.