Aigrettes

Aigrettes au parmesan are deep-fried pieces of a thick, set cheese panada. Usually they are fried without the benefit of a crumb coating, but this is tricky.

Ingredients

  • 60 g/ 2 oz butter
  • 115 g/ 4 oz flour
  • 300 ml/ ½ pt milk
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 115 g/ 4 oz grated Parmesan cheese (or Cheddar, or equal quantities of both)
  • 3 eggs
  • about 115 g/ 4 oz fine breadcrumbs

Method

Put the butter in a pan over a low heat and, when melted, add the flour. Mix to a thick roux and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then beat in the milk. Continue to cook, stirring hard, until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan in a coherent mass.

Remove from the heat and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Mix in the grated cheese, then beat in the yolks of 2 of the eggs until glossy and smooth. Whisk the whites of these 2 eggs to soft peaks and stir into the mixture. Turn out and scrape into a baking tin and leave to cool and firm. It will not set hard.

Use a dessertspoon to scoop out bite-size pieces, roll these in the last egg, beaten, and toss to coat in the breadcrumbs, repeating to give a double layer. They are soft and slippery and this makes the task quite fiddly.

When crumbed, roll them into small logs. Aigrettes can be prepared up to this point the day before and kept refrigerated overnight. Heat oil for deep-frying to 190°C/375°F and fry them for 3–4 minutes, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

Serve while still hot, but not immediately or people will burn their mouths. The texture is almost that of a moist doughnut inside a crisp shell.

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