Soufflé Success! (sort of….)

souffle in oven

My first attempt at a soufflé! Somewhat successful, although I think they were overcooked a bit – I forgot to take into account that the time in my recipe was for one large one, not six small ones. But still, it tasted good, and was a nice light dinner with a side salad of arugula and tomatoes.
Here is the recipe (from Joanne Weir):

5 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
5 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups half and half
6 eggs, separated, room temperature
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated gruyere
salt and pepper

Use 1 teaspoon of butter to grease a 2-quart soufflé dish. Dust the interior of the dish with Parmigiano, tapping out the excess. You can also make 6 small individual 1 to 1 1/2 cup ramekins (but don’t cook as long – Valerie’s note)

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for a few minutes. Place the half and half in another saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a scald. Add the hot half and half to the flour and butter mixture, stirring rapidly with a whisk. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce is smooth and thick. Add salt to taste.

Add the yolks, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add the gruyere and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and beat to stiff peaks. (I took the easy way and used a Kitchenaid). Fold half of the whites into the cheese sauce with as few strokes as possible. Fold in the remaining whites. Turn the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish. Bake in the middle of the oven until well browned and a skewer inserted into the center is just slightly moist, 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately.

As far as I can tell, most soufflé recipes are very close to this. Some add 1/8 tsp cream of tartar to the whites (maybe to stabilize?) but they are basically a béchamel sauce to which you add the cheese (or other flavor…. spinach would be good…), and egg yolks, and to which you then fold in egg whites and bake. Not too hard really, just takes a bit of courage! I think next time I will try one large one. Ina Garten suggests smoothing the top of the soufflé and then drawing a circle with the spatula to help it rise evenly – I will try this and report back!

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