I’d heard of gougères before I made them, but I could never really understand why people raved about them so much. Basically, these are cheese puffs, made from the same kind of pastry usually used for patisserie like eclairs or choux buns – except this is a savoury version. They’re just cheesy, pastry bites – but in this case, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Trust me when I tell you that these will be devoured in short order at your next party – and they’re so chic you can even serve them for something formal as well as a BBQ!
When my friend told me a new French cafe had opened in town, I had to rush down there as soon as possible to test it out! Boulangerie Victor Hugo (or BVH, if you’re going to be cool about it) is located down town, past the Bargate and just past Zen and La Lupa.
This recipe is one I’ve cooked before, but I wanted to cook it again, partly because it’s good and partly because I wanted to blog about it. I can’t remember the first time I heard about it, but I was definitely in my teens. I also have a copy of French chef Camille le Foll’s book Les Classiques de Camille (available in English as well) with a recipe for it. So I was totally aghast when I was watching an old episode of Nigel Slater’s Real Food (complete with a very young looking Nigella Lawson) with him and a bunch of snobby foodies (one of them was Alastair Little) talking about the dish as though it was a totally bizarre urban legend. You can actually watch the episode here, and they start talking about ‘the myth’ around 11 minutes on. Alastair Little said he never heard of it, so proceeded to make up a version. I’d love to be so smug as to think that just because I’d never heard of a recipe, it must be made up. Maybe one day.
Needless to say, I think Alastair Little is a ponce. Very good at cooking, but every time I see him on TV, I wish I hadn’t.
Anyway, I had heard of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, and I’ve cooked it, and it is nice. So I thought I’d cook it again. Here’s the costing.
Wallace Red Freedom Endorsed chicken : £4.73
Fresh parsley : £1.19
Bunch sage : from garden
Thyme : £1.19
Rosemary : from garden
Bay leaf : from garden
150ml olive oil : store cupboard
3 bulbs garlic : 89p
Grand total : £8.00 exactly. Spooky. And, shameful, because I grow all these herbs in my garden, but they are sort of dwarf, mini versions I dare not pick any leaves from, in case they die…
So here’s the chicken – no specific type needed, so I thought I’d get this Freedom Endorsed chicken from Sainsbury’s which was on special offer. Sorted.
Next step was to separate out the cloves of garlic – no peeling needed, thank goodness. If you ever wondered what 40 cloves of garlic looked like, this is for you.
Surprisingly few, right?
But still, so good looking. Ah, garlic…
Anything that starts with garlic, herbs and olive oil has to turn out good, right?
Chop a sprig of parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary and sprinkle it over the chicken together with salt and pepper, and cover with the olive oil. A lot of olive oil. Then, pop the bay leaf inside the chicken, and scatter the garlic around the edges.
Then you roast it for an hour and half, either covered with foil or a lid.
Once you take it out, the garlic should be delicious and soft, and you can squeeze it out of its skin… and eat it! Yum. Or spread it on the delicious chicken meat.
Serve it with crusty bread and a green salad. I also made roasted cherry tomatoes from the garden, sprinkled with a little sugar, dried thyme, salt and olive oil.
So, what’s the verdict? Was it too garlicy…?
No such thing.
M gave it 8. He likes garlic.
I gave it 8.5. I like garlic too. And, it’s a quick and easy recipe, unusual and very delicious! If you like garlic… you will love this.