A few weeks ago I read Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I enjoyed it so much more than the movie – the “real” Julie was so likeable to me in the book (maybe it’s because I love that she loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer – in our opinion one of the best TV shows ever!), whereas I wish they had just made the movie all about Julia Child and left the Julie parts out because she just rubbed me the wrong way!
The one recipe that I just had to make after reading her book was for Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage – decadent potato-cheese “mouthfuls” that made me salivate just reading about them. My husband read the book after me (and surprise, surprise) guess which recipe he wanted to try? Yup – the one and the same!
I went to the internet and found a copy of the recipe, although you can also find it in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, of course. It seemed simple enough, so the next weekend I prepared a batch to go with our steak and braised carrots – YUM!
I substituted sharp cheddar cheese for the Swiss called for in Julia’s recipe. We aren’t nutmeg fans at my house (and I can’t eat cayenne) so the flavor profile is slightly different from in the original recipe, but they were super fantastic and I knew that I would be sampling them at the Co-op very soon.
Well, that day was yesterday, and they were a hit with customers and staff. I usually try to avoid recipes that are too technical so they will appeal to the broadest audience (this one uses a pastry bag to pipe the sticks), but I don’t have a ton of experience using pastry bags myself and I got along fine, so I figured it was worth the “risk”. This recipe does take a lot of elbow grease (I got a doozy of a blister the first time I made them – I wore an oven mitt when I beat the dough this time and avoided another dreaded blister), but I feel that it is well worth the effort.
While I do own pastry bags, I ended up using a plastic freezer bag with a corner cut out to pipe the cheese sticks because it was larger, and it worked pretty well for me. Be sure to exert even pressure or the seams on the bag could split, and if you have plastic gloves to wear (so you can pipe while the dough is still really warm) they are also helpful. I had some minor blow-out trouble the first time I made these (I was squeezing the bag too hard!), but by the second time I was piping like a pro.
Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage
- 1/2 # Russet Potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
- 1 c sifted all-purpose flour or GF flour blend
- 1 stick softened unsalted butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
The original recipe created by Julia Child has the following differences:
- Replace the cheddar with Swiss cheese
- 1/8 t white pepper (instead of black pepper)
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425° F and place oven racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions. Butter two baking sheets or cover with parchment paper.
- Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, then put through a ricer (or mash them by hand—just be sure to get all the lumps out!) back into the saucepan. You should have about 1 cup of potatoes.
- Stir the potatoes over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes until they form a light film on the bottom of the pan, indicating that most of their moisture has been evaporated. Turn heat to low.
- Beat the flour into the potatoes; then the butter by fractions; then the egg, cheese, salt, pepper, and seasonings (if using) in order. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Fill dough into a fluted pastry tube 1/4” in diameter, and squeeze the mixture into 2 1/2” lengths spaced 1/2” apart onto the baking sheets. You should either let the dough cool a moment first, or wear gloves so you don’t burn your hands.
- Bake both sheets at the same time for about 15 minutes, or until the sticks are lightly browned. Halfway through the cooking time reverse the sheets so they cook evenly (switch racks and turn them 180°).
- Serve hot or at room temperature (I think they are best served hot, my husband likes them best at room temperature – you decide!).
As a side note, I took Arabic (in elementary school) and German (in high school), although I can only speak a few words of either anymore, so I was a little daunted to say the name of the recipe out loud to customers. After a little dictionary.com verbal translation recon and practicing on my co-workers, a French-Canadian shopper told me that I did a pretty good job with my pronunciation! Say “boo-shay pahr-men-tyey oh fro-mazh“ and you’ll sound like you’ll know what you’re doing too!