Cheese souffle is the kind of thing many home cooks are afraid to make because they think it’s difficult. It’s really not. You need to practice once or twice in terms of technique, which is the part you need to pay attention to since there are not all that many ingredients in a basic cheese souffle — the one I suggest, since it’s wonderful and doesn’t need to be loaded up with all manner of nonsense.
This will serve 4 with some bread and maybe sliced heirloom tomatoes, though my family could probably polish two of these off in nothing flat.
Use good cheese and organic whole milk and eggs. This recipe is simple and relies on quality ingredients. If you use crappy, mass-produced cheese product you won’t wind up with a deeply-flavored, rich, complex souffle.
This is a good dish if you want to show off, though I stopped doing that about 20 years ago. I wound up bombing when I tried to show off and, since I’m no longer trying to lure a boyfriend into my web, there’s no real need. I figure my family and friends know the deal with me and it’s all good, fallen souffles, broken oyster stews and all.
6-cup souffle dish, or other casserole, with high, smooth interior
Stand mixer or balloon whisk and large, copper-lined mixing bowl
2-1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons AP flour
1 cup whole milk
Pinch white pepper
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shredded cheese (Gruyere, Cheddar, a mix, whatever you like)
For prepping souffle dish:
1 tablespoon soft butter
1/2 cup panko (course breadcrumbs)
1). Prep souffle dish by buttering the inside, being careful to catch the whole surface.
2). Toss in panko, and turn dish this way and that, so the panko sticks to the butter and there is panko on the entire surface. This will allow the souffle to climb up the side of the dish. Set aside.
3). Make a thick bechamel sauce, like so: microwave the milk for 1 minute and set aside; melt the butter in a saute pan and add the flour; combine with spatula and stir over low heat for a minute — stirring constantly. You don’t want any color, which should result in a roux blanc, or white roux. Whisk in all of the milk quickly; add the seasoning pinches; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for a minute or so. When you have a thick white sauce, which is what a bechamel is, take it off the heat. Note: if you use cold milk you’ll get lumps. You have been warned.
4). Separate the egg whites from the yolks by hand, so you don’t lose half the whites — which you will if you use the shells. Make sure you have absolutely no yolk in your whites! You should have one little bowl of 5 whites and one with 4 intact yolks. Wrap up the extra yolk for some other use.
5). Place the whites and the salt into your mixing bowl and whip at high speed until you have serious peaks. At this point you should pre-heat your oven to 400 deg. F.
6). Whisk the egg yolks into your white sauce.
7). With your spatula, cut out a nice chunk of the egg whites and gently whisk it into your now-yellow sauce to lighten it up.
8). Fold the cheese into the sauce with your spatula.
9). Fold the rest of the egg white into your sauce — carefully. It’s OK to transfer the sauce to the mixing bowl with the whites, assuming you used a small saucepan for the white sauce.
10). Place batter into prepped souffle dish using spatula, but don’t disturb the sides.
11). Place on center rack of oven and turn it down to 375 deg. F.
12). Cook for 30 minutes and then test with a skewer, which should come out relatively clean. You need to work quickly. If too soft for your taste, put back in the oven for 5 minutes.
13). Separate the top with a fork and spoon and serve ASAP, as it will deflate in only a few moments!