We Americans are not the only ones who celebrate the harvest. In France, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is celebrated on the third Thursday of November. Nouveau is not to be confused with Beaujolais, a red wine produced from the gamay grape that includes grand crus like Fleurie and Cotes de Brouilly, and more familiar wines like Beaujolais and Beaujolais – Villages.
Beaujolais Nouveau is also made from the gamay grape; just after they have been harvested. The wine originated about a century ago as a cheap and cheerful drink produced by locals to rejoice the crop at the end of the season.
By French law, Nouveau is released no sooner than 12.01 AM, this year on Thursday, November 17. And in our house, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is always an excuse for a party.
The region of Beaujolais is known for its fabulous food. Paul Bocuse’s restaurant, just minutes from the heart of Beaujolais, serves several varieties of Nouveau. Often consumed slightly chilled, Nouveau is a wine for food lovers. This fresh and fruity red goes well with haute cuisine, or Saturday night pizza.
Back when I was in the restaurant business, I served four course meals with Beaujolais Nouveau while diners listened to the strains of Edith Piaf, the famous cabaret singer and songwriter. We would start the meal with Savory Bacon and Onion Tarts, a Bocuse rendition of street food, and then move on the Gougeres, savory cheese puffs, with potato and sausage salad, and a simple sauté of leeks and peppers.
For the entrée, diners would enjoy Roast Chicken or Rabbit with mustard sauce, tomatoes Provencal and a gratin of cauliflower. Dessert of Pears poached in Beaujolais with almond cookies and chocolate completed the feast. The food was always accompanied by much celebration and many glasses of Beaujolais Nouveau.
GOUGERES (CHEESE PUFFS)
- ¾ cup water
- ½ teaspoon Sea salt
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese about 1 cup
For the glaze:
- 1 teaspoon egg beaten in a small bowl with ½salt
- 1 ounce grated Gruyere cheese about ¼ cup
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In a saucepan, gently heat the water, salt and butter until the butter is melted. Bring the mixture just to a boil, then remove from heat and immediately add all the flour.
- Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. The dough should be shiny and just fall from the spoon. Beat in the grated Gruyere.
- Scoop the dough onto the sheet pans in 2 ½ inch mounds. Brush the puffs with the egg glaze and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
- Bake until the gougeres are puffed and brown but still slightly soft on the inside, about 30 – 35 minutes. Serve warm.
- To prepare in advance, bake the gougeres and cool them on a rack. Just before serving, reheat in a 350-degree oven for about 4 – 5 minutes.