Prosciutto-Grana Padano Gougères

SPONSORED POST: These prosciutto-Grana Padano gougères are easily tossed together with eggs, cured ham, aged cheese, and plenty of fresh thyme and rosemary.

A man holding a glass of Prosecco and a plate with three gougeres.

I believe that of all the puffs, the savory gougère is the pinnacle of puffery perfection. The reason being that the pastry used for sweet profiteroles, cream puffs, and even the Eiffel tower-like croquembouche is, at the core of its being, no more than a vehicle for the filling. It’s what you have to get through to get the Cracker Jack prize within, whether pastry cream, ganache, caramel, you name it.

But the gougère, well, the gougère is the prize. It’s sorta the edible version of a Chinese takeout food container.

In this version, I went one better by adding to the batter classic Prosciutto di Parma as well as one of the noble cheeses of Italy, Grana Padano, along with thyme and rosemary to ensure every bite literally explodes with indulgence. Okay, perhaps I’m a little hyperbolic. But these are indeed not your ordinary savory gougères. Indeed, a fine piece of puffery.–David Leite

AN EATING TOUR OF ITALY

Years ago, I had the good fortune to tour Italy and, led by my prodigious belly, I ate my way from one astoundingly delicious region to another.

My trip began in the Parma region, where one of the world’s most famous hams is produced: Prosciutto di Parma. Led by my guide, I walked along row and rows of curing hams hanging from racks. As I snapped picture after picture, I learned that the hams, also know as Parma ham, are made with only two ingredients–locally raised pork and salt–and are air-cured for at least 400 days. As natural as natural can be.

Of course, no food trip would be complete without tastings, and I happily held out my plate. The prosciutto was superbly silken with deep umami notes and a hint of salt. It paired marvelously with the fruity white wine served.

Tasting a sample of Prosciutto di Parma

Next, I landed smack in the middle of the Pó River Valley, home to Grana Padano. Through a jumble of Portuguese and Italian, I discovered from the cheesemaker (see below) that Grana Padano is the most popular grating cheese in Italy. Made from partially skimmed raw cow’s milk from local dairies in the valley, Grana Padano is still made using the same methods developed by the monks who created the cheese more than a millennium ago.

Both foods are DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), meaning only ham and cheese from those respective regions can be called Prosciutto di Parma and Grana Padano. (Unless you specifically ask for “Prosciutto di Parma” at the store, you’re most likely getting American-produced cured ham.)

I followed the farm-to-table process by tromping through pastures, visiting storehouses, and partaking in a dizzying number of wine-soaked dinners. The pride the dairy and pig farmers took in their work was matched only by the folks who made and aged the cheese and cured the hams.

Grana Padano 4
Getting schooled in the production of Grana Padano cheese. (Oh, and we got a taste, too!)

The trip ended two weeks later with a dinner at a gorgeous winery in Valpolicella. It was autumn, and the grapes were still on the vines to concentrate their flavor to make the region’s famous Amarone wine—a rich, muscular red with deep notes of currants, cherries, and vanilla.

Our hostess, the owner of the vineyard, began the evening by passing platters of Prosciutto di Parma and Grana Padano drizzled with local honey and pouring her wine as we sat by the fire. A decade later, I can’t tell you what we had for dinner, but I remember that gracious, friendly cocktail hour. I remember it so well, and was so taken by it, that ever since then, The One and I have made prosciutto and Grana Padano drizzled with local Connecticut honey a staple in our entertaining.

The only thing we do differently? We serve Prosecco because, as many of you know, we firmly believe a meal without bubbles is no meal at all.

☞ READ THE THE ARTICLE: CALL ME PUFF DADDY

Prosciutto-Grana Padano Gougères

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes about 30 gougères
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Ingredients

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  • 1 cup cold water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 oz), cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced and finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) finely grated Grana Padano cheese
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • 1. Crank the oven to 425°F (218°C) and position racks in the top third and bottom third positions of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking sheets.
  • 2. Bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • 3. Dump the flour all at once into the boiling butter mixture and, using a wooden spoon and good old elbow grease, stir until the flour clumps into a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Continue stirring over medium-high heat until the dough leaves an even, dry film on the bottom of the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. (Don’t you dare skimp on this step.)
  • 4. Drop the ball of dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until the dough is just barely warm to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  • 5. Plop in an egg, increase the speed to medium, and beat until incorporated. The dough may look hopelessly soupy and broken at first, but fear not and continue mixing until the blob turns smooth and slick. Repeat with the remaining eggs, adding them 1 at a time.
  • 6. Using a spoon, stir in the Prosciutto di Parma, Grana Padano, rosemary, thyme, and pepper.
  • 7. Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough, or use a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop to make plump mounds, on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Have a glass of cold water handy and dip the spoon in it every so often to help make the dough easier to scoop.
  • 8. Bake the puffs until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating and switching the positions of the sheets once halfway through baking.
  • 9. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool slightly. Then whip off your apron, pop as many puffs as can fit into your mouth, place the rest of the puffs on a platter, and offer them to your guests post haste. (You can bake these up to 2 hours in advance, then reheat them in a 350°F [176°C] oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Or freeze a batch of baked, cooled puffs for up to a month and, just before guests arrive, pop the frozen puffs into a 350°F [176°C] oven for 10 to 12 minutes.)

A Little Bite to Carry You Through the Holidays

  • Tux variationFrankly, these little bits are so bursting with flavor due to the Prosciutto di Parma and Grana Padano that they need little else. But…you know me: I have “Guild the Lily” tattooed on my chest.

    For Thanksgiving, you can fill them with a mix of cream cheese and cranberry compote.

    For Christmas, think thin slivers of leftover rare roast beef and a dollop of horseradish sauce.

    And for New Years, well, I think a tiny mound of caviar and a spoonful of sour cream is exactly what Father Time craves.

Recipe Testers Reviews

This gougères recipe is perfect for that irresistible, one-bite morsel of goodness and delectability that we’re all looking for on the cocktail buffet. It’s the perfect bite that includes cheesy, salty, savory, and herbal goodness. It’s the Rocky Mountain High of Poufs, the Sultan of Savory Puffs!

I can see it pairing well with a great single-malt Scotch, a nice, cool Chardonnay, a good, hearty Cabernet, and an icy Abita Turbodog. Yes, all of them! And I have to admit, I did sneak one right out of the oven with a diet Coke (decaf, of course).

These puffs are puffy and chewy, cheesy, and salty, and perfect coming right out of the oven. They’re great to serve before dinner to friends, but I recommend making two batches for a party. You’ll want to check the taste of one as they start cooling, then you’ll find yourself popping “just one more” in your mouth. They’re almost too easy to eat.

But make the two batches of dough separately, instead of just doubling everything in one pan.

One of these times I swear I’ll serve them with something, instead of just eating them while standing at the counter.

These gougères are freakin’ fantastic. I made them too late at night after a frustrating day at work, so I brought most of the batch to the office the next day, warmed them up, and fed them to the natives. They loved them even though they’d been sitting overnight. In fact, most people flocked to them. I used a #40 cookie scoop (that’s the one that yields a generous tablespoon) to scoop the dough. Spray it lightly with cooking spray and the puffs will slip right out.

This is a sponsored post. (Although I’ve been paid to write about Prosciutto di Parma and Grana Padano, my opinions can never be bought. But you guys know that.)

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Comments

  1. Really good! Love your website! I made these gluten free using c4c gluten free flour blend.
    I can’t say how good it is to eat a warm puff right from the oven!

    1. Susan, I’m flattered. Thank you. And congrats on a gluten-free version. Aren’t they incredible warm from the oven? I usually make 1 1/2 batches when company is coming so that I can eat them to my hearts content before they arrive and then eat a dainty one or two in their presence. They marvel at my self-control.

  2. David,

    I’ve been known to make a batch of puff pasty cheese straws–and polish off the whole thing myself. So these are even more dangerous for me to make. 30 of these is a long lunch for one with a chilled Pinot Grigio (or three) and an absorbing book. Maybe a small salad after.

    Would I be gilding the lily if I snuck in a little smoked pimentón? An even more radical thought: did you ever think of substituting duck fat for the butter? You think it would work…? Or would it be blasphemy?!

    Great writing as usual – and Happy 2013!!

    1. Ling, I think a wee bit of smoked paprika would be lovely. It’d give it a slight edge. As to duck fat, I’m going to ask The Fat Lady, who in real life is the ultra-slim cookbook author and food expert, Jennifer McLagan. Fats have different melting points and water content. My suspicion is duck fat might be just a little too soft for this.

      1. Hello David and Ling,

        You can replace one fat with the equal quantity of another fat EXCEPT when it comes to butter. Butter isn’t a pure fat, but an emulsion of fat and water, so you replace it with 15 to 20% less fat. I think that David probably used a butter that was 80% butter fat so you want 20% less duck fat. Now as you guys don’t weigh anything this make exact calculation tricky and I hate math anyway. Usually puff recipes are quite flexible so I’d use 5 tablespoons of duck fat and add an extra tablespoon of water. Let us know how it goes.

  3. I made a huge mistake when I made these. I made them for my son to take to a New Year’s party. The minute I tasted one, I knew I should not have promised them away. These were so good I’ve been planning an after New Years dinner party just so I can make them again! The prociutto and spices in the dough gives a great savory flavor that goes so well with drinks. I didn’t find them too chewy at all, just nice and crisp and plenty airy. And so easy, too. Man, I love these little gems.

    1. Uh, uh…. So glad you liked them, Susan. The One and I adore them. And how great is it that they weren’t chewy! Tell me did you make a very fine grate with the cheese (little fluffy clouds) or a larger grate with more heft?

      1. I used the small holes of my box grater and with heavy pressure to make some of it in fine strips and light pressure for some like powder. I saved some of the strips aside to sprinkle on the outside of the uncooked puffs to lend a more crispy exterior. I also turned the heat down to 375 after about 10 minutes so they wouldn’t get too tough. They browned up beautifully without over cooking on the inside to become chewy. I used a pastry bag to mound the dough on the pans.

        1. Susan, thanks for the comment. I grate my very, very fine because I like the denseness it give the puffs. When I make plain cheese gougères, I do as you do.

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