I know, I have done it again. Pancetta. It’s that porky, tasty yumminess, that I love so very much. Now these cheesy numbers are made from choux pastry which for me is the easiest pastry on the block. A positive word of warning: these are incredibly moreish. A just cooked bowl of them with disappear in literally minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Put a small frying pan on a medium heat for the pancetta.
Then, put the butter and milk in a medium pan over a low heat and leave the butter to melt.
Meanwhile, tip the pancetta into the frying pan with a drizzle of oil and cook for about four minutes, tossing every so often.
Once the butter has melted into the milk, whack up the heat and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, finely grate the parmesan and tip it into a medium bowl. Stir in the flour, chilli powder (if using) and a pinch of salt.
As soon as the buttery milk boils, remove the pan from the heat and add the flour mixture to it. Beat it really hard with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan. Then tip it into a medium bowl, spread it out all around the inside and leave it for a few minutes until cool to touch.
Once the pancetta is crisp and golden, remove it from the heat and tip it onto kitchen towel to drain off the excess fat. Then finely chop it and set aside.
Once the flour mix has cooled down a little, add the eggs, one at a time beating hard between each addition. When the egg first goes in, the mixture will look a little less-than-pleasant as if it won’t mix in, but keep beating it really hard and it will come good. Then stir in the pancetta.
Now, here you can either spoon blobs of the choux pastry onto the baking sheets or, (my favourite method with my piping bag obsession) pipe the blobs using a disposable piping bag cut to give a 3cm/1¼in opening. Either way, make them about 2-3cm/¾–1¼in in diameter and space them a little bit apart. This makes about 25. Use a finger slightly moistened with water to push down any end bits that may be sticking up (so they don’t burn in the oven). Then bake for 25 minutes.
The puffs should be crisp and golden on top when cooked. These are really best served piping hot while they are still slightly moist as they are cut open.
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