December 7, 2007

Pierre's Souffle

Recently, Pierre was in a playful mood and decided to have a bit of fun with a soufflé recipe.  A soufflé is a puffy, light creation that usually begins with a thick egg yolk mixture that is made fluffy and airy by folding in stiffly beaten egg whites and then baked in the oven, typically in a straight-sided traditional soufflé dish.  A soufflé can be either savory or sweet and can be made with many different ingredients.  On this particular day, Pierre chose to make a savory concoction incorporating four different cheeses and chopped pecans.  What was so much fun was seeing all the different cooking vessels he used, from tiny egg cups, to espresso cups, to copper pans.




The soufflés turned out beautifully – all puffed and golden!  They also tasted incredibly delicious.  The four different cheeses gave so much depth of flavor and the pecans, a wonderful sweet and nutty addition.  Another wonderful lunch for the lucky employees at my house that day.  Oh, and here’s a tip from Pierre.  He says that in France there is a saying that a soufflé waits for no one.  Although people think that baking a soufflé is tricky, it’s really not.  The important thing to remember is to have your guests assembled and ready to eat it as it emerges from the oven because a soufflé will deflate quickly right before your eyes!

The ingredients
The Recipe

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

5        tablespoons unsalted butter
4        tablespoons flour
1 ¾    cups whole milk
1        teaspoon salt
½        cup Gruyere, shredded
½        Gouda, shredded
½        cup blue cheese, crumbled
½        cup grated Parmesan
7        eggs, separated
1/3        cup chopped pecans

Butter the soufflé dish or other containers and dust lightly with flour, shaking off the excess.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring frequently.  This is called a roux.  Add the milk and the salt to the roux and cook, stirring constantly for two minutes, until thick and smooth.  This is called a béchamel.  Lower the heat, add the cheeses and stir to melt.  Remove from heat and whisk the egg yolks and the pecans into the béchamel.  Place the mixture in the refrigerator for several minutes to cool down a bit.

Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and using an electric mixer, whisk until stiff.  Fold the whites into the béchamel one-third at a time and pour into prepared container or containers to about a half-inch from the top.  Set the containers on a shallow baking pan and place in the oven.  Tiny soufflés will take about 6 to 8 minutes, medium size about 10 – 12 minutes, and large, about 20 – 30 minutes.  The soufflé should be lightly browned and quite puffy.  Serve immediately.