Savoury profiteroles are my new friend. Yesterday I picked up a kilo of spring onions from the reduced section of the supermarket for just 65p which suddenly meant I needed to make lots of spring onion recipes. Cheese and onion is one of my favourite pairings and as I was looking along the spines of my cookbooks for inspiration I clocked my Secrets of Eclairs book, eureka! Savoury Choux bites! I spent the entire day making lots of different variations, the base of this recipe I created for my Chilli Cheese Bites recipe for Domestic Sluttery and then tweaked it to make these profiteroles.
Now this filling is rather special. Yesterday I also picked up half a dozen skin-on chicken thighs for a creole curry, on a nod *ahem* to healthy living I put a bit of butter in the base of a deep frying pan added a few caraway seeds then put the seasoned thighs, skin side down into the pan and gently fried them (without moving them at all) so the chicken fat rendered out into the pan. The thighs were then lifted out, the crispy skin promptly scoffed as a cook’s perk (all healthy eating notions go right out of my kitchen window the moment crispy chicken skin is about) and the fat poured into a bowl and set to one side whilst I carried on making the curry. This deeply flavoured, seasoned fat also had the added bonus of a gentle caraway flavour and was to form the basis of a seriously naughty porcini béchamel filling.
These awesome bites are best eaten straight away and cooked in batches as you need them but you can also reheat them gently if you need to by popping them in the oven at 190C for a few minutes and they will go nice and crispy again and the filling will warm and ooze….
For the smoky chilli choux:
- 10 spring onions, chopped
- 1 dried chipotle chilli, mashed into flakes (I get mine in bulk from Edible Ornamentals)
- 1 tablespoon rendered chicken fat*
- 70g butter, diced
- 175ml water
- big pinch Halen Môn sea salt flakes
- 120g plain flour
- 4 large free range eggs, beaten
- 100g extra mature cheddar cheese, grated
- 25g grana padano cheese, freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons garlic granules
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- freshly ground black pepper
For the filling
- About 100ml rendered chicken fat* (with caraway)
- plain flour (enough to make a roux, approx 1 mug-ish)
- milk (as much as it needs to get the right consistency)
- 2 heaped tablespoons of porcini powder (blitz dried porcini in a coffee grinder)
- 1 teaspoon powdered veg stock (I use Essential Cuisine)
- 50g grated extra mature cheese
- sea salt and white pepper
*how to make the rendered chicken fat is described in the introduction
- Preheat oven to 220C. Gently fry the spring onions and chipotle in a tablespoon of the chicken fat for about 2 minutes to soften the onions then put to one side to cool.
- Put the butter, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil, remove from heat and dump all the flour in at once, stir vigorously to mix and return to a medium heat mixing constantly for about 2 minutes, the choux will have come away from the sides of the pan and be all glossy. Put the choux into a big cold mixing bowl and leave to cool for a few minutes.
- Use an electric whisk to beat the choux mix whist adding the eggs about a tablespoon at a time whist continually beating until all the mixture is combined and smooth.
- Add the cheeses, spring onion, grated nutmeg, garlic, thyme and seasoning.
- Line a roasting tin with some baking parchment that you have greased with a bit of chicken fat then using a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle pipe balls of choux about the size of a cherry tomato all over the tray leaving about 3cm around each one as they will expand during cooking.
- Make the filling by heating the fat then adding the flour and stirring for a few minutes to cook out the flour, add the milk gradually until you get a nice thick sauce mixture then add the remaining ingredients, if it gets too thick just stir in more milk.
- Bake the choux balls for 10mins at 220C (top shelf in my oven) so they puff up then reduce temp to 190C and continue to bake for about 7 minutes or until they are golden and crispy (don’t open the oven door for the first 10 minutes to avoid them collapsing).
- Once cooked use another piping bag to pipe in your filling to the hollow centre or alternatively just slice and fill.