The simplicity of the cheese souffle belies just how amazingly delicious it can be. Souffles often intimidate home cooks because of their mystique as being the realm of chefs and accomplished cooks. In fact, they are quite simple if executed with confidence and are every bit as satisfying as a much more hearty entree. For me, the perfect Sunday lunch is a cheese souffle, some smoked salmon, maybe an arugula salad with a little roasted cauliflower and, of course, a bottle of cold white wine. A sophisticated, healthy, delicious start to the afternoon!
4 T butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/3 t cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 pound sharp cheddar (about 2 cups) grated
6 eggs, separated
Heat the oven to 325. Melt butter in a saucepan , then add flour, salt and cayenne to make a roux. Stir constantly until the flour is cooked and the roux turns lightly brown. Ever so slowly so as not to cause clumps, stir in milk until fully incorporated. Add cheese, stirring until just melted. Remove from heat.
Slightly beat egg yolks in a bowl and stir in a small amount of the warm cheese mixture. This will prevent the eggs from curdling when fully incorporating. Slowly stir the egg mixture back into the cheese sauce and let cool slightly.
In a large copper bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Pour a bit of the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites to incorporate, then gently fold all the mixture in. Pour into the chilled souffle dish, place in the center of the oven and cook about 40 minutes (no peeking lest the oven temperature drops) until a nice “top hat” forms and a knife comes out of the center clean. Present the soufflé triumphantly the minute it comes out of the oven as it will quickly fall a bit. Serve immediately, scraping the browned bits from around the outside of the ramekin to mix with the soft center.
Serves 2 as a main course Wine pairing: A white French Chablis (the soufflé ingredients are cheap, so splurge on the wine!)