Dish of the Week: Soufflé au Fromage
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.
This week, we're mastering the all-mighty soufflé.
A soufflé is a classic French dish consisting of beaten egg whites and a sweet or savory custard base which is then baked. A derivative of the French word souffler, meaning "to blow up" or to "puff up", a soufflé literally puffs up as in the oven. That's thanks to the whipped egg whites, which add air bubbles that swell as the temperature rises. By the time the soufflé comes out of the oven, it's bubbling over the top of the ramekin that it was baked in; though it will deflate a bit once the air bubbles begin to cool and contact.
The technique of adding egg whites, which dates back to Medieval times and eventually evolved into the development of meringues and soufflés, can be used to make anything from rich and velvety chocolate and light and airy lemon dessert soufflés to the recipe we're sharing today: A savory and creamy soufflé au fromage (or cheese soufflé). It's comfort food at its best.
This recipe, from chef Alex Guarnaschelli, uses a mix of grated Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to make a savory cake that bursts with hints of butter and nuttiness. A couple of spoonfuls of sour cream ensure the soufflé is silky throughout.
Soufflé au Fromage
Ingredients serves 6 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 3 tbsp unsalted butter 3 tbsp all-purpose flour 1 1/4 cups heavy cream 4 large eggs, separated, plus 3 large egg whites 3 tbsp dry sherry 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (2 packed cups) 2 tbsp sour cream 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt 1 tsp Dijon mustard 1/2 tsp dry mustard 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish* and sprinkle it with 2 tbsps of the Parmigiano to coat all around. This coating is important because it prevents sticking; thus helping the batter to rise up the sides. *Note: If you are using smaller ramekins to make individual soufflés, you'll need to reduce the bake time by about 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the size.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour to make a paste. Gradually whisk in the cream and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking for about 3 minutes until mixture is very thick. Transfer the base to a large bowl and let cool.
Once cooled a bit, stir in the egg yolks, sherry, Gruyère, sour cream, salt, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, cayenne and the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano.
Place egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl and add in the cream of tartar. Using an electric mixer, beat the whites until glossy, firm peaks form. Gently fold one-third of the whites into the soufflé base to lighten it. Continue to fold in the remaining whites by thirds until mixture is well combined and no streaks remain.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared dish (should be about 3/4 full or 1/2 inch from the top). Run your thumb around the inside rim of the dish to wipe away any crumbs. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the soufflé is golden brown and puffed. It will jiggle slightly but the top should be set.
Serve immediately (preferably with a glass of crisp white wine).
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