Party snacks: cheesy churros with a spicy salsa
These cheesy, slightly spicy churros make a good party snack. They taste best the day they are made but, if needed, can be reheated in the oven (at 180 degrees Celsius for about five minutes) to crisp them up. While they are delicious as is, they are even better with this roasted red pepper and jalapeño salsa, which can be made a day or two in advance.
Cheese and piment d’Espelette butter churros with roasted red pepper and jalapeño salsa
It’s hard to say how much egg you’ll need for this recipe. It depends partly on the size of the eggs (because “large” can vary in size) but also on how long you cook the mixture on the stovetop after adding the flour.
For the churros:
60 grams piment d’Espelette butter
75 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
2-3 large eggs, at room temperature
80 grams aged comté
Oil, for frying
For the roasted red pepper and jalapeño salsa:
1 red bell pepper, about 200 grams
1 jalapeño chilli
50 grams ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes (I use the local pear-shaped variety sold by fruit vendors)
1 shallot, about 25 grams
The finely grated zest of half a lime
About 15ml fresh lime juice
Fine sea salt
Make the salsa first. Char the bell pepper and jalapeño by putting them directly on the high flame of a gas stove. Turn them over as they blister and burn so they cook evenly. When the bell pepper and jalapeño are charred, put them in a bowl until they are cool enough to handle, then strip off the blackened skin. You can do this easily by running the bell pepper and jalapeño under a thin stream of running water. After skinning them, blot them dry with paper towels. Halve the bell pepper and jalapeño and remove the core, seeds and stem.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and chop the bell pepper, then put them in a blender or food processor and process to a rough purée (you don’t want it to be completely smooth). Mince the jalapeño and shallot and mix them into the purée. Add the lime juice and zest, then season to taste with salt. Refrigerate for about an hour, or longer, if you like. Taste the salsa just before serving it. Add more salt and lime juice, if needed.
Make the churros. Put the water and butter into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat to low then add the flour all at once and immediately start stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. The mixture will ball up around the spoon and come away from the sides of the pan. Continue to stir constantly over a low flame for a minute or two.
Put the dough into the bowl of an electric mixer and stir on low speed for a couple of minutes to dissipate the steam (if you don’t have a mixer, stir by hand with a wooden spoon). Mix in one of the eggs, stirring until fully incorporated. Whisk the second egg, then add half to the mixture and stir well. Add in more egg as needed, using the rest of the second egg and some or all of the third, until the mixture is glossy and smooth, and forms a soft peak when you touch it with your fingertip. Finely grate the cheese (preferably using a rasp-type grater, such as a Microplane), then stir it into the dough. Scrape the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized star tip.
Pour some oil to the depth of about 3cm into a shallow pan and heat to 170 degrees. Pipe the churros mixture directly into the hot oil. Don’t make them too long (I like them about 3cm-4cm) and don’t worry if they are curled. Fry the churros until they are a medium golden brown on both sides then remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve hot, warm or cool with the salsa.
If you want to make the standard sweet churros, prepare the dough as above, but substitute plain butter for the piment d’Espelette butter, and omit the cheese. Add half a teaspoon of salt to the water and butter before the flour is mixed in. Fry the churros in the same way (although you can make them longer). After draining, roll the churros in granulated sugar mixed with a little ground cinnamon.