Saturday, September 16, 2006

Gruyere and herb soufflé

So when you have fresh eggs, make the most of them, I say. What better way to celebrate the humble egg and fresh spring herbs than by the spectacular satisfaction of the vertiginous triumph of the soufflé. Crusty on the outside, creamy soft and foamy on the inside. There are two important factors to the soufflé: heat and air. The air goes inside, the heat goes outside and makes the air trapped in the bubbles of the egg white expand, giving the soufflé its lift. This recipe is for one large soufflé, but if you have time to do more greasing and tie collars around the dishes, you can do individual ones. Reduce the cooking time by 5-7 minutes. For casual lunches, and less time in prep, I just do a big one.

Heat the oven to 200°C and grease a soufflé dish with melted butter, brushing the sides from the bottom to the top vertically.

45g butter
1 ½ tbsp plain flour
1 cup milk
3 eggs
3 tbsp of mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped, like parsley, basil, dill, chives, chervil, tarragon – whatever you have hanging around – create a combination, or use 2 or 3 types.
60 grams grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper, season to taste

Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Stir for a minute or two to get any lumps out and to cook the floury taste out of the roux, and therefore bursting the gluten molecules in the flour. Add the milk and stir until combined (use a whisk if there are any lumps) and continue stirring/whisking until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, stirring to combine. Cool to room temperature and transfer to a large bowl that will be big enough to accommodate the whites when you mix them in.

Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the cooled sauce along with the chopped herbs and seasoning, stirring to combine. In a clean bowl whisk the eggs to stiff peaks (when you lift the beater out of the bowl and turn it upside down the egg white should stand up and not flop over except at the very tip). Using a large metal spoon, take a spoonful of the white and stir it into the sauce and yolk mixture to loosen it a little. Then very gently fold in the rest of the whites. Don’t worry if you have a few lumps of uncombined white in the mixture, just don’t over stir it. Pour into the prepared dish and put it straight in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until it rises and is golden brown on top. Take it straight to the table as it will start to fall as soon as it’s out of the oven.

To serve, take two metal spoons and hold them back to back and insert into the middle of the soufflé, gently separating it. Give each person a little of the golden top, the crusty sides and the creamy interior.

Then give them a green salad, a glass of crisp sauvignon blanc, and a sunny day.


Blogger Brilynn said...

A souffle is one of those things I've never got around to making but always think I should, this one sounds very good.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

It's a real treat Brilynn, and once you have the knack you'll never go back. And diners will think you're very clever to make it rise so high :)

7:57 AM  

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