Tourtons du Champsaur are like fried ravioli and served with a green salad or eaten alone as a snack. A specialty of Champsaur, they were thought of as the ‘cushion of Baby Jesus’ and at one time were made for Christmas festivals. The first time I tried them was at a busy kiosk in front of Intermarché in St-Bonnet-en-Champsaur. Sold piping hot right out of the fryer, you could choose from a variety of fillings: mashed potatoes, apple, spinach, or chevre. I’ve adapted the following from a recipe on the back of a tourton postcard.
500g all-purpose flour (1 lb. 2 oz.)
75g butter (3 oz.), cut into small dice
50g creme fraiche (2 oz.)
2 large eggs
A generous pinch of salt
1 small onion, chopped fine (I used some spring onions too)
3 large potatoes, boiled and mashed or put through a ricer
Butter or olive oil for cooking the potato filling
Salt and pepper
Salad oil for frying
Take the butter out and let it soften a bit before proceeding to make the dough. Combine the flour, butter, creme fraiche, eggs, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Working quickly with your fingertips, mix into a crumbly mass, then gradually add cold water, a few tablespoons at a time, and work the dough until it comes together to form a ball that is neither too firm or overly pliable. Divide evenly into two portions and wrap in plastic; chill in the refrigerator for atleast 30 minutes.
Saute the onions in some butter or olive oil until softened. Stir in the mashed potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. If the potato mixture is too dry, moisten with a little milk. Set aside to cool.
Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough into a 15×16-inch rectangle. With the shorter side facing you, place rounded teaspoons of potato filling on the bottom half of the rectangle. 6 across and 3 down. Carefully fold the top half over and press firmly between the portions. Cut with a knife or pizza wheel.
Pour enough oil into a frying pan to a depth of around 1/2 inch. Heat to 375°F degrees and fry in small batches until both sides are a golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with fresh greens, a slice of chevre, and red fig jam along with a dressing of choice. Or you can also enjoy it alone with ice-cold beer. Makes 36.
Additional notes: These can be frozen and fried as you need them. Freeze individually on a tray until firm then store in a plastic bag. Remove from freezer to thaw atleast 30 minutes before frying.