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Shrimp profiteroles: my own combination January 23, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Seafood.
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This is not something I got out of a cookbook although I cannot take credit for all the parts. It was, however, my idea to put this all together in this form – if it’s been done before I wouldn’t be surprised, but I haven’t seen this anywhere before. This is why I’ve called this ‘my own combination’ rather than ‘my own invention’ – I certainly can’t take credit for any of the bits! The parts that make this recipe work are the profiteroles, shrimp, and béarnaise sauce.

Originally, when I made this dish, it was because I’d never made profiteroles before, and it turned out perfectly without a hitch. Of course this time when I went to make it, it was a comedy of errors – I splashed chilli water all over the kitchen, an egg fell off the counter onto the floor, and my piping bag broke halfway through making the profiteroles! Despite all this, the outcome was a success – which I think speaks to how easy this dish actually is!

To start with, I prepared the profiteroles. I started with melting some butter with twice as much water. When the butter was melted, I added flour (about the same amount as the butter) and stirred until it was smooth and was coming away from the sides.

I should note that  I didn’t add any sugar or sweetener to the profiteroles – many recipes for choux pastry call for sugar as they are meant to be used for desserts – as I was using this for a savoury dish, I left it plain, although salt could be added if required.

After mixing the flour into the butter/water mixture, I let it cool for about 10 minutes before adding a couple of eggs. This was to ensure that the eggs didn’t start cooking when they hit the flour mix. I meant to add three eggs, but this is where one egg managed to escape and fall on the floor! So I added two eggs. It worked out OK so I think two eggs was sufficient. After mixing the eggs in, I piped the mixture onto some baking paper and put it in the oven. At least, that was the theory! In reality, I ended up with a piping bag oozing pastry from many many holes and an absolute mess on my baking paper. So instead of using a piping bag, I used two teaspoons to spoon the mixure onto the tray. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos at this point, as I was a little flustered and had choux pastry all over my hands from the broken piping bag!

I put the profiteroles into the oven to cook for about 15 minutes and set about preparing the shrimp.

I kept the preparation for the shrimp fairly simple, as I was intending to make béarnaise sauce to go along with it. I started by heating a dried chipotle chili (bought in our earlier venture to Casa Iberica) and blended it with some water. This chili is not as spicy as it is smoky, so I was hoping it would add flavour rather than hotness. I minced some garlic, added the chili, and cooked the shrimp.

After cooking the profiteroles for about 15 minutes, I punctured each one with a toothpick, and left them in the now turned-off oven. The purpose of this was to allow any air trapped inside the profiteroles to escape, and the warmth of the oven meant they would stay crispy while this was happening.

Meanwhile, I prepared the béarnaise sauce.

I know there are different versions of béarnaise sauce; I use the version in Larousse Gastronomique because this was where I first read about this sauce! For *my* béarnaise sauce, I start with vinegar, tarragon, cayenne pepper (to add a little kick), salt and pepper. In this case I used dried tarragon as I had no fresh, although I have made it with fresh tarragon before.

When that had cooked for a bit and reduced by about half, I turned down the heat and added an egg yolk. When that had thickened, I started adding the butter. I generally find that the amount of butter in a lot of béarnaise sauce recipes is a bit too much and I’ve ended up with a separated butter sauce before. So I tend to add the butter bit by bit until I have enough, rather than adding the amount listed in the recipe.

Again, I let it thicken, and then reduce, before finishing it. I left the heat on very very low while finishing off the rest of the dish, to keep the sauce warm and ensure it didn’t congeal.

By this time, the profiteroles were ready to come out of the oven.

These were the ones I made with the teaspoons – I didn’t pipe these ones. Please don’t be afraid of making profiteroles! I know some places talk about them as if they are super difficult to make and easy to mess up – please let my mistakes be a lesson to you and prove how easy it is to make them! Despite a less than perfect preparation (one less egg than planned, the mix spooned onto the tray rather than piped), my profiteroles still turned out fine.

It was now time to assemble the dish.

I began by cutting each profiterole in half, getting one or two of the shrimp and putting them into the profiterole. I then spooned the béarnaise sauce over the top.

So, the verdict: The shrimp were salty and tasty, and the chili added some nice smokiness and depth without adding too much spiciness. The béarnaise sauce provided a contrast, being creamy and a bit tangy from the vinegar. The whole package was wrapped up in a profiterole, which not only absorbed some of the béarnaise sauce, but also provided a crunchiness and a difference in texture.

All in all I think this is something that Nero Wolfe would approve of, maybe as an entrée to a lunch or dinner. It’s easy to prepare and the different components can be cooked at the same time. It comes out appearing quite fancy and more decadent than the preparation actually is, and this can only be a good thing. The only problem is that you have to go back for seconds, and thirds…and fourths!

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