Canadian bacon, cheddar and souffle recipe
I am a big fan of food that delivers showy results with a reasonable amount of effort. I like food that scares people even better. I don't mean "scares" like some of the stuff that Steve eats - that just weirds me out - but rather stuff that scares the cook, not the eater. Like soufflés.
Soufflés can definitely be intimidating, even though they consist of two dead simple parts: a simple white sauce that functions as a base and a mound of stiffly-beaten egg whites. The base provides all of the flavor and the whites elevate the dish, literally, above the simple ingredients. Combine the two, however, and even experienced cooks cringe.
Once, many years ago, I was invited to a friend's place for dinner on a night when she was promising her first ever soufflé. Sitting in her kitchen, I watched her wipe out a mixing bowl, three times, lest a drop of oil contaminate her egg whites and cause them to deflate prematurely. She then painstakingly whipped the whites by hand, because she apparently didn't trust the whites to her hand mixer - it had once been in the same room with some oil, after all. She whipped the egg whites for about 15 minutes, maybe more - I poured a second glass of wine and lost track - before folding them into the base, one...tablespoon...at...a...time. Over the course of an hour and a half, she trashed the kitchen in pursuit of her goal: the picture perfect soufflé. I drank and cheered her on.
Twenty minutes after half a dozen small ramekins went into the oven, it was time to check them. They puffed and she was thrilled - so thrilled, in fact, that she did a small jig around the kitchen, ending with a spin in front of the oven. A spin that left her off-balance and headed, rather unceremoniously, to the floor. So she grabbed the closest thing: the oven door, which opened and then slammed shut with a resounding THUD! Deflating the soufflés into little eggy pancakes. Flat little eggy pancakes.
Bad dance moves aside, soufflés are not really that difficult to make. The base cooks up in 5 minutes and whipping the whites with a mixer only takes a few more. You can even use an immersion blender if that's what you have on hand. There are really only two rules: fold in the egg whites gently and don't slam the oven door!
Canadian bacon, cheese and chive soufflés
Makes 4 individual, or one large, soufflés
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup low-fat milk
3 egg yolks
2 slices Canadian bacon, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
1-2 teaspoons butter, for ramekins
2 tablespoons bread crumbs, for ramekins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 1 1/2 quart baking dish or individual 1-cup ramekins by buttering them and then coating with breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and continue to cook, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Whisk in the milk and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool while you beat the egg whites.
Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
Stir the egg yolks, ham, salt and paprika into the milk mixture. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the mixture. Add the rest of the whites to the bowl in two parts, sprinkling in the grated cheese while folding in the egg whites. (It helps to have a small child around to sprinkle things.)
Carefully spoon into baking dish(es)l they should be no more than 3/4 full. Run a finger around the top edge of the dish to clean off any drips - soufflés won't rise correctly if there are bits spilled around the edge! Bake individual ramekins for 20 minutes, a single soufflé for 40-45, until it rises above the top of the baking dish and is browned on top. Serve immediately.
290 Calories; 21g Fat (66.8% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 216mg Cholesterol; 636mg Sodium.
This recipe is infinitely adaptable. You can skip the meat to make it vegetarian, swap in just about any kind of cheese, or add in small amounts of almost any leftover that sounds good.
...and a question
Have you tackled a soufflé or other recipe that you weren't so sure about? How did it go?