Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Classic Cheddar Cheese Soufflé

When my boys Franz and Ben were growing up, we would have a cheese soufflé every couple of weeks. Making a soufflé often meant that I was running out of food in the fridge—and that, in fact, we were pretty much down to the basics: butter, eggs, milk, and cheese. They would greet the meal with a moan “Soufflé again?” Poor boys. Little did they know that many people would find it an elegant and almost ethereal repast. Last week I served it to a friend who said that it was like eating clouds. Enjoy.

6 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
Dash cayenne pepper or ¼ teaspoon hot smoky paprika or Aleppo pepper
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
1½ cups milk, warmed in the microwave
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan and ½ cup grated cheddar or whatever mixture you might like

1. Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a medium bowl. Add the salt, mustard, cayenne or paprika to the egg yolks and mix well. See instructions for separating eggs if you need them.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan; blend in the flour. Let bubble, stirring, for a minute or two to cook the flour. Off the heat, add the warm milk, stirring to combine. Return the pan to the heat and cook until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
3. Stir in several large spoonfuls of the sauce to the yolk mixture to temper the yolks. Then add the yolk mixture to the sauce, mixing steadily. Return to the large bowl and set aside to cool for 15 minutes or more.
4. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Butter a 2-quart soufflé dish and dust it with flour.
5. With a perfectly clean wire whisk, hand or electric beaters, whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry.  See instructions for whipping egg whites if you need them. Stir ¼ of the egg whites into the cheese mixture. Then fold in the remaining. Pour into the prepared dish.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed and brown on top. Serve at once.

4 servings, 3 if people are really hungry
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

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