Quite Cheesy Sharp cheddar Souffle
You'll need an 8-cup souffle dish or other tall-sided baking dish. Do not use a convection setting on your oven; the fan may prevent the souffle from rising properly. Serve at a cool room temperature with a butter lettuce salad dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and a few fresh tarragon leaves.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the souffle dish
3 tablespoons flour
1½ cups whole milk
1½ cups loosely packed, grated extra-sharp aged cheddar cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
6 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
Combine the 3 tablespoons of butter and the flour in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking to blend as the butter melts. Cook, whisking a lot, for about 1 minute, to cook off the raw flour flavor. Pull the pan off the heat and splash in about ¼ cup of the milk. Whisk vigorously to form a smooth paste (a roux), then whisk in the remaining 1¼ cups milk. Don't worry if your sauce is lumpy at this point.
Return the pan to medium-high heat; once the mixture is bubbling at edges, whisk frequently to make sure to get into the angles of the pan where the sauce can accumulate. Cook, also scraping down the sides of the pan a few times, until smooth and no taste of flour remains, for 8 to 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, gradually add the cheddar and Parm, and whisk until they have completely melted. Season with the salt, black and cayenne peppers and the nutmeg. Taste, and add more of any or all of those seasonings, as needed; you want it to be quite highly seasoned, as you'll be adding bland egg whites soon. Keep this cheese sauce warm.
Remove the top oven rack; preheat to 375 degrees (no convection). Use some butter to generously grease the bottom and sides of your 8-cup souffle dish or other tall-sided baking dish.
Make sure the cheese sauce is quite warm (which will allow the egg yolks to thicken slightly) but not actually hot (which could overcook the yolks and make them lumpy). Whisk the egg yolks into the sauce until blended.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment; beat on medium-low speed until frothy, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until thick and pillowy. Be careful not to overmix. To test, pull your whisk up to create a peak, which should hold and not slump back into the rest of the whites, but the tip should flop over rather than stand stiff. (Alternatively, you could beat them with a whisk in a large bowl, by hand.)
Scoop out about one-quarter of the beaten egg whites and plop them into the cheese sauce. Use a flexible spatula to carefully fold the two together. Continue adding more whites and folding them into the sauce, scooping from the bottom and gently rolling the mixtures together to preserve as much volume as possible, until all of the whites are added. Don't worry if you see a few remaining streaks of white -- better to have that than to overwork your mixture and deflate the volume. Gently transfer the souffle batter to the souffle dish.
At this point, you can keep the souffle on the counter for about 30 minutes before baking, and you can even hold it in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours. Or you can bake it right away, because you're preheating that oven.
Bake (middle rack) until it is tall, deep golden brown on the top and still moves slightly when you shake the dish but doesn't seem liquidy inside, for 22 to 30 minutes. You can double-check by inserting a thin knife into the center of the souffle, which should not emerge wet.
To show off your souffle, carry it to the table quickly, because it will deflate slightly as it cools. The flavor is better when it is not too hot.
Serves 4 to 6
Nutrition | Calories: 260; Total Fat: 19 g; Saturated Fat: 11 g; Cholesterol: 260 mg; Sodium: 400 mg; Carbohydrates: 8 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 3 g; Protein: 15 g.
From cookbook author Martha Holmberg